May 10, 2010

Higgins on Higgins: 'Match Fixing is Rife' claims the Hurricane and Dennis backs John.

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 10:07 am

Alex was never one to keep things under his hat.

Never one to be left out when there is a whiff of controversy in the air. The Hurricane Alex Higgins has claimed that at least four top players have taken bribes to lose tournament matches.

The 61-year-old broke his silence after the latest in the scandal and rumours surrounding his long-lost son John Higgins.

Alex says that he turned down several big-money offers to throw games in his career.

“The names of the four players would shock the public if it was proved,” he said.

“But I know there are plenty of repulsive professional players who have thrown games for bookies.”

He added cuttingly: “Just because they wear crisp white shirts doesn’t make them clean — it’s all going on right under people’s noses.”

Belfast-born hardman Higgins, world champ in 1972 and 1982, referred to a “plague” of bribery, betting scams and cheats in the game.

He claimed Greek gamblers offered him £18,000 plus a bite of their kebab in 1979 to lose his Benson & Hedges Masters quarter-final against Perrie Mans and £20,000 to cheat at the Irish Masters in 1989 but rejected both.

“I wanted nothing to do with any of them. I couldn’t live with myself if I did it,” he said.

It isn’t clear if Alex is referring to four top players in the modern game or at the time when he was at his peak.

Dennis - Talking Balls.

In an interesting intervention in the John Higgins saga another Irishman, Dennis Taylor has pitched his hat into the ring and defended him against the latest allegations by saying:

“John’s a naive lad. In all innocence, he’s rung them up to see what the odds would be, just in case Murphy had a terrific run. Probably all he was doing was looking at the scenario”.

“If you’re playing in a tournament where the highest break prize was £10,000 and you were sitting on a break of 138, you would find out what the odds were on somebody beating your highest break. All you’re doing is covering yourself.”

Dennis clearly speaking from experience there. But the question is for everyone, is this right or wrong?

I would argue that the example he gives is very different to the insinuation yesterday, someone else beating your break is something over which you have little control as you can’t control the balls if you are not playing, but someone winning a match against you is something over which you potentially have complete control. 

Furthermore, just because you have a high break should this automatically entitle you to hedge your bets as a right? I think Dennis is on very dodgy ground here.

I’d argue that both the ‘scenarios’ go against the ethics of the sport and I believe that old Goggles is wrong and should not have said what he said and kept his daft opinions to himself.

Dennis, you're next.

Any new code of conduct that is established which it surely now must be, should make clear that any players betting on any tournament in which they are still involved should be investigated.

On the Higgins affair meanwhile a spokesman for the WPSBA said that there were “clear rules laid out for players on the issue of gambling”, and that there appeared to have been a “clear breach of the Code of Conduct”.

If they are clear then that’s fine, but are they explicit? For instance, would Dennis’s scenario be accepted as legitimate and ethically right by the Board, I’d argue that it should not.

In fact, let’s get Dennis in for the thumbscrew treatment.

For crimes against commentary alone this is surely the only way forward.

That would indeed be ‘Top Drawer’.

The Case Continues.

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