February 13, 2010

Lee Expecting No Charges

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 6:44 am

Stephen has had his collar felt

Stephen Lee is not expecting to be charged following his arrest as part of an investigation into suspicious betting patterns, his management said today.

The 35-year-old, from Trowbridge in Wiltshire, was released on bail yesterday afternoon after being arrested yesterday by West Midlands police and questioned.

He has not been charged with any offence and is expected to answer bail in three to four months.

A statement from On Q Promotions, Lee’s management company, today read: “Stephen Lee was taken to a West Midlands police station for questioning on Thursday 11 February.

“Stephen co-operated fully with the police inquiry and was released without charge. He does not expect any charge to be made and denies any involvement with cheating or betting irregularities.

“Stephen is now concentrating on practising hard to achieve qualification for the world championship and to fulfil all of his exhibition commitments”. The Trowbridge Working Mens Club can breathe a collective sigh of relief, I can’t see many rushing to sign him for a nights entertainment after this….

“Stephen Lee and On Q Promotions will not be making any further comments and would ask that the privacy of Stephen and his family is respected.”

Th man himself said: ”I got home really late last night. I will say that I was treated really badly yesterday, so I’m still in a bit of shock.”

Speaking on behalf of Lee, manager Paul Mount said: ”He’s dumbfounded that he’s been arrested at all, and so am I. I’ve been working with Stephen now for about a year and never ever did I or anybody else in our organisation or any of the other players involved in our team of players, not one of us ever thought Stephen was involved in something like that.

”It’s come as a real shock to all of us. And I one hundred per cent support Stephen and believe that he has not been involved in any way with any cheating or betting irregularities. He’s a lovely man. If you go back a few seasons Stephen was provisionally number one in the world”.

Our man Stevie was arrested on suspicion of cheating following a joint operation involving the police force and the Gambling Commission. The arrest was made under section 42 of the Gambling Act 2005, which states: “A person commits an offence if he (a) cheats at gambling, or (b) does anything for the purpose of enabling or assisting another person to cheat at gambling.”

World Snooker, the commercial arm of the governing body, the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association, today said they were awaiting further developments. “We are aware of the recent news articles concerning match-fixing and are awaiting further reports,” read a World Snooker statement.

“In instances where the Gambling Commission commences an investigation into a match, the WPBSA work together with the Commission to assist in their inquiries and the WPBSA will hold their own investigation open pending the conclusion.

“However, neither the Commission nor the WPBSA will release information surrounding a betting matter while an investigation is ongoing.”

It is understood World Snooker are unaware of the circumstances that led to the arrest of Lee. Now this I do find quite odd, surely World Snooker should be aware if one of it’s members is under investigation for two years, as has been widely reported?

Getting a confession may call for a more creative approach. You Nonce.

Once again, it the old question of proving anything was wrong. Perhaps as someone suggested yesterday this is a warning shot to others.

Short of actually beating a confession out of the players in the style of a 1970’s back street copper, proving anything is suspect must be very very difficult. It would be nice if the sums that we are talking about here were disclosed, the rumours behind the infamous Maguire Burnett game were that Victor Chandlers stood to lose £5000 on the scoreline, yes, you read that right, not £50,000 or £500,000, just £5000 – when they alerted the police to the irregularities. But this obviously then filtered down to other firms who then noticed some strange bets too, particularly in the Glasgow area.

But it appears that the Trowbridge One is free to roam the streets of his sleepy village once more. But he will forever live with the stigma of this now and it will be very hard for him to shake it off. There were a lot of people ready to play judge and jury yesterday, perhaps the suspicions are correct, but proof, dammit, I need proof.

Whatever the truth is, it is clear that Lee is far from happy. Various reports over the past three years have painted a rather sorry picture.

He has collected more than £1.5million in career prize money but lost his place in snooker’s elite group of players when he dropped out of the world’s top 16 in 2008, and barring a dramatic return to top form at the World Championship he will not return there for next season.

It was a first-round defeat by Joe Swail at the Crucible which confirmed Lee would tumble out of the top 16, after which he said: “I have just been making up the numbers the last two years”

Nobody enjoys living out of a suitcase

“I am sick and tired of packing my suitcase only to unpack it again soon after. It’s dragging me down.”

He decided during the off-season to carry on playing for the 2008-09 campaign but his results have shown little sign of improving and he began the current campaign at number 25 in the world rankings.

Lee has won four ranking titles in his career and also reached the semi-finals of the World Championship in 2003, when he lost to eventual champion Mark Williams.

Away from the table he tested positive for cannabis in 2000, and has struggled to keep his weight down, despite making a determined bid to cut down on drinking.

After reaching the Masters final in January 2008, Lee said: “I’ve stopped drinking since new year (that meant at the time, around a week and a half). When I go out with my friends it’s usually about 10 double vodkas, nothing overly excessive, but I know that losing a bit of weight would help me.” Good to know that our man doesn’t do things to excess then.

During the same tournament he said: “You don’t have to be fit to walk around a snooker table, but at the longer tournaments it does count more like the UK and World Championship” He said this while settling down to a plate of fish and chips while Ronnie O’Sullivan jogged past him in a tracksuit.

“I’ve always said if you get out of bed the right side then you’ve done most of the hard work, but me and my missus like to go to the pub at the weekend. I’ve had to stop binge drinking and eating after 10 o’clock at night.

“We live in a little village and we drink a lot over a Friday and Saturday, so I’m making more of an effort.”

Lee, a father of four, was certainly delighted to reach last year’s World Championship, when he had to battle through a qualifying round.

“I couldn’t bear thinking about not going to the Crucible this year,” he said.

But after another first-round defeat, this time to Ryan Day, Lee described his performance as “rubbish”.

I think you’ll agree, all does not seem quite right in the world of Stephen Lee.

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