Football Index to return £3.5m to customers after court decision

The High Court has decided the cut-off date.
The High Court has decided the cut-off date.

The High Court set Match 26 as the cut-off to the payment of Football Index dividends.

UK.- Football Index will return £3.5m to players after a High Court decision was reached on where to set the cut-off date for the payment of dividends.

Football Index’s operator BetIndex went into administration in March, resulting in the suspension of its platform, which allowed customers to trade football players to obtain dividends based on performance. 

The operator’s Gambling Commission sports betting licence was also suspended. 

Players were left with funds trapped in the platform pending a court decision on how Football Index’s player protection fund should be distributed. 

The decision was initially due to be made by the Insolvency List at the Business and Property Courts of England and Wales in May, but the case was moved to the High Court.

The High Court has now decided to set March 26 as the cut-off date for the payment of Football Index dividends. That means that funds held in the player protection account, including winnings for events up to and including March 26, will be returned to customers. 

Around £3.5m of £4.5m held in the player protection account will now be returned to players in the next 7-18 working days. The money is held by the Viscount of Jersey.

March 26 is the cut-off date that had been requested by BetIndex’s administrators, Begbies Traynor. A date was needed because bets that were still open when the operator went into administration would still be attracting dividends.

That would cause the player protection account to go into default if a cut off date was not set at some point before April 22. March 26 is the date that administration proceedings began.

The decision favours players with funds in their accounts but not those with large numbers of open bets.

The funds will be returned to customers through their Football Index accounts via the same methods available when the platform was active. The Football index app has been suspended so accounts can only be accessed via the website.

Begbies Traynor said: “As soon as these funds are received, customers will be notified by email and at that point customers will be able to log into their Football Index account and make a withdrawal request.”

The £1m surplus that remains in Football Index’s player protection account will be used to pay fees incurred by the administrators and the remainder will be divided among creditors, who are mainly players with active bets.

UK gov appoints Malcolm Sheehan QC to Football Index review

The government has appointed Malcolm Sheehan QC to lead its review of the collapse of BetIndex, the operator of the Football Index football player trading platform.

The independent government inquiry is to look into how the platform collapsed and whether more could have been done to try to prevent it. This is likely to involve examination of the Gambling Commission’s role.

The Gambling Commission suspended BetIndex’s sports betting licence after it entered administration in March. The British gambling regulator has been criticised for not acting earlier after it emerged that it had concerns about Football Index’s viability months before its collapse.

Sheehan’s review will cover the entire period from September 2015, when BetIndex obtained its licence, up until the suspension of its licence in March.

Sheehan will review the Gambling Commission’s actions throughout the period, from its initial licensing to general monitoring. He will also consider whether Football Index should have been regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) under the Financial Services and Markets Acts rather than by the Gambling Commission as a betting platform.

A barrister at Henderson Chambers, Sheehan specialises in product liability and group actions among other legal areas. He will report his findings in the summer.

It is expected that they will inform the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s ongoing review of British gambling legislation.

The Gambling Commission is also carrying out its own review into the collapse of Football Index.

The future of Football Index

Documents presented to the court revealed that BetIndex planned to go into administration before it lowered the dividend payments Football Index offered to customers.

The operator has said that it plans to relaunch Football Index and allow customers to take equity through a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA).

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Football Index sports betting