Snookerbacker

May 2, 2010

Notes on a Scandal

Filed under: — snookerbacker @ 10:08 am

John may know his fate at the beginning of July or perhaps August or maybe Christmas

THIS IS A TOTALLY UNALTERED REAL TIME LOG OF THE EVENTS SURROUNDING THIS ‘SCANDAL’. INCLUDING NEWS STORIES AND OPINIONS OF THOSE ‘IN THE KNOW’. I’M NOT AWARE THAT ANYONE ELSE HAS DONE THIS BUT I FEEL AS A SNOOKER FAN THAT IT IS IMPORTANT TO LOG EVERY LITTLE ‘MOVEMENT’ IN THIS PARTICULAR EPISODE.

START AT THE FOOT OF THE POST (ABOVE THE COMMENTS) TO RELIVE THE EVENTS AS THEY UNFOLDED.

I thought rather than clog up the main page with this it would be easier to maintain it with the latest press as it appears.

The first breaking story can be viewed here.

The latest news I can find can be viewed from the top down.

Please feel free to air your views on this whole episode in the comments box below.

August 5th 5pm

Hearing dates set for 7th and 8th September, right in the middle of the Shanghai Masters.

July 28th 5.50pm

News of the World hands over footage to David Douglas, Higgins and Mooney have yet to view it.

July 28th 2pm

SportingIntelligence state that:

Sportingintelligence can reveal that Higgins, who was suspended from all snooker on 2 May as a result of the News of the World allegations, made an appeal against that suspension, and the appeal was handled, reluctantly, by one person, WPBSA board member, Brandon Parker, who upheld the appeal.

Parker was reluctant to make a call because he had access to only some of the evidence against Higgins at the time, but he upheld the decision to keep Higgins’ suspension in place because of the severity of the accusations and because of the greater good of snooker he has told this website.

Further developments are expected in the Higgins case imminently, perhaps within hours, relating to the release of evidence to investigators. More later.

August 5th 5pm

The hearing has been scheduled for September 7th and 8th.

July 26th 7pm

This link provides a further twist in the tale.

And this is what John says about his namesakes’ death:

Scottish player John Higgins, 35, also followed in the footsteps of his namesake, winning the world title in 1998, 2007 and 2009. “As a youngster it was the magical play of players like Hurricane Higgins that inspired me and many of my generation to fall in love with snooker,” said Higgins, the world No1 who was suspended by World Snooker in May 2010 following allegations of match fixing, which the player denies.

“During one tournament I remember my father and Hurricane sitting in our hotel talking about snooker into the early hours. The next morning the concierge knocked on my door with a present from Hurricane; it was a beautiful blue snooker suit made by a top Irish tailor. It was a lovely gesture that meant so much to me and my dad.

“This will be a sad time for Hurricane’s close family and friends and also sad for the wider snooker community. When people write about the history of snooker they will have to devote many pages to the skills of Hurricane Higgins.”

July 23rd 11.45am

Still no news…..Barry indicating that a hearing is likely by the ‘end of August’ according to the Daily Mail.

July 12th 2.30pm (thanks to ‘rusel’ for this – John clearly in jovial mood)

SCANDAL-hit snooker star John Higgins laughed off his match-fixing allegations as he presented awards at a football team’s awards ceremony.

In one of his first public appearances since footage appeared of him apparently agreeing to throw matches, Higgins, 35, stepped in as the special guest at the boys’ football club to present trophies.

Officials at the East End Thistle Football Club had been left in a panic after two footballers they had originally booked failed to show up.

Worried the under-10 players would be disappointed club officials launched a frantic search for a replacement, even phoning local radio stations and football clubs.

A player’s parent knew a friend of Higgins and after a call, the player immediately headed for the Goals centre in Hamilton, Lanarkshire, to save the day.

Club staff said Higgins, who is currently suspended from the game, was in good form and even jokingly asked them if someone had made a bet that he wouldn’t turn up.

Alex Kerr, one of the team’s coaches, said: “John Higgins showed up within 45 minutes of us calling him and he was more than happy to help.

“The boys were over the moon. He had a quick introduction to the team coach and moved seamlessly into presenting the boys’ trophies. Afterwards, he stayed to sign autographs and pose for pictures.”

It was the first time Higgins has been seen in public since his son’s first communion in May, shortly after the scandal broke.

June 28th 11.30am

Barry doesn’t ‘believe in life bans’. Audio interview here.

June 26th 7am

Sportingintelligence ‘expect a result within a week’ here

June 25th 12.30pm

From WS website:

The WPBSA Disciplinary Committee has resolved to refer an investigation arising from the News of the World newspaper’s report of May 2, 2010, which contained allegations against John Higgins and Pat Mooney, to a hearing board convened under the auspices of Sport Resolutions UK.

David Douglas, head of the WPBSA’s disciplinary committee, said: “Sport Resolutions deals with cases in various sports and is named in WPBSA disciplinary rules. It is completely independent of the WPBSA and we have no doubt that it will bring a fair conclusion to this matter.”

There will be no further comment at this stage.

June 22nd 6am

Conclusion ‘by the end of July’

(Scottish Herald)

June 21st 11.45am

Roy Greenslade has picked up on the recent Sportingintelligence article here and suggests that Higgins was ‘persuaded to drink far more than his normal modest intake on the night he was covertly taped by the News of the World at a meeting in Kiev on 30 April’

June 18th 6.10pm

More doubts about ‘that tape’ here

June 16th 9pm.

It’s oh so quiet.

And so peaceful until..

Come on Baz, it’s time to speak on Higgins.  Is he banned or not? If so, for how long? How did Dougy arrive at the conclusion? We need to put this to bed as I reckon it’s been 7 and a half weeks now and if it’s another fortnight we’re risking a very strange photo on here.

27th May 9am

‘Snooker has had enough bad boys to fill a Hall of Infamy’ and ‘There is a significant “underground” element and shadowy figures follow the professionals around on the circuit’.

Apparently.

According to a rather sensationalist and very late article in the South African press here.

26th May 4pm

Graeme Dott hopes to see John Higgins cleared of the charges. Click here.

23rd May 9am

John Higgins is moving house, but thoughts that he is resigning himself to a future on a council estate are premature, he is moving half a mile up the road according to the Daily Record here.

19th May 10am

The Scottish Sun reports that John Higgins has been axed from a flagship telly show following ‘match’ fixing claims (though I haven’t read anywhere about fixing the outcome of a match, more top journalism there).

Bosses at STV dropped a massive photo of the 34-year-old Scot from the backdrop of their Sports Centre programme.

It was replaced by an image of a boot and a football in the wake of claims former world No1 Higgins agreed to take a £261,000 bribe to deliberately lose frames (note: not matches).

Last night a show insider said: “Before all the allegations, John was thought of so highly as a Scottish sports star that he appeared on the backdrop.

“I guess the fact he’s been replaced by a foot and a ball shows how far he has fallen.

“Even though he’s denying the allegations the bosses just didn’t think it would be right to keep him on there.”

Full non-article here.

Wednesday 19th May 9.30am

Just a thought of my own really that occured to me while listening to the radio this morning. The Lord Triesman episode is running in the UK at the moment and there are many that are calling for the heads of the reporters for entrapment. It occurs to me that if John Higgins believes that he was a victim of this form of journalism too that his first port of call should be to put in an official complaint to the Press Complaints Commission (PCC). It will be interesting to see if he does this. If he was genuinely in fear for his life, as he claimed he was, then this is surely the course of action that he and Mr Mooney must take as a way of clearing their names.

Tuesday 18th May 9.20am

Sportingintelligence appear to be questioning the transcript of the original video ‘evidence’ by the News of the World. Pointing to errors in what Higgins and Mooney actually said and what the subtitles say they said. CLICK HERE.

Roy Greenslades comments here.

Saturday 15th May 7am

Snooker chief Barry Hearn has promised the John Higgins affair is being dealt with as a “matter of urgency”.

Former world champion Higgins has been suspended pending an investigation into allegations of frame-throwing.

Hearn, the chairman of snooker’s world governing body, has handed the matter to an independent body in the interest of the sport’s integrity.

Hearn told Sky Sports News: “They will make the decisions on what penalties, if any, have got to be made.

“I’m very happy it is out of my hands, it has to be seen to be done thoroughly and independently but it has to be treated as a matter or urgency because anything that questions the integrity of any sport has to be taken terribly seriously.

“The principle fundamentals that are at stake here are everyone giving 100% every frame.

“Sport has to be whiter than white and that is the plan. We are pushing ahead with all speed but within the rules.”

Friday 14th May 5.45pm

Absolutely no news since the last post. There is a rumour that there may be another story on Sunday but surely the worst is over with?

Sportingintelligence under Nick Harris is trying to get to the heart of the matter without spin or sensationalism

Monday 10th May 1.10pm

The thoughts of sportingintelligence on yesterday’s story are here.

The Guardian’s Greenslade Blog gives this take on things.

It does appear that yesterday’s story has increased the sympathy for Higgins, I’m not sure that is what the paper wanted to happen.

Sunday 10am

The Scotsman comes out in partial support for John. I suspect some others will probably follow.

Sunday 7am

A Tweet from Dave Hendon:

I suspect the real ‘revelations’ have been dropped in return for an exclusive interview with Higgins himself. What a sordid business.

Sunday 6am

The ‘gossip’ that was abound yesterday was not very accurate in terms of the story that has been printed today. That’ll teach me to listen to idle talk. I feel the hand of Si-Ting Chi-Lee at work.

Saturday 8th May 3.30pm

Rumours are abound that tomorrow’s revelations involve betting scams and a whole lot more concerning John Higgins. Relating to a match which aroused some suspicion at the time.

I stress these are only ‘chinese whispers’ at this stage.

Saturday 8th May 10.00am

A great interview this morning in The Guardian with Steve Davis

Friday 3.40pm

Graeme Dott announces that he has terminated his contract with Pat Mooney. Obviously the ‘Russian Mafia’ excuse doesn’t wash with our man Dotty.

“Further to the press reports last week involving Mr Pat Mooney, I have terminated my representation contract with Pat Mooney and FSTC Management with immediate effect.

“I will have no further dealings with either of these parties.”

Friday 7th May 11.10am

Mark Selby gives his thoughts on his mate John and all things Baz here.

Thursday 6th May 7.40pm

To rub salt in the wound, ITV2 show a timely repeat of All Star Mr and Mrs, John & Denise’s finest hour?

Strange they should schedule that this week, must just be coincidence then eh?

Thursday 6th May 1.30pm

The Sun Reports:

BARRY HEARN is setting up an anti-corruption unit for snooker.

More than 50 top cuemen were addressed by Hearn’s new henchman and ex-cop David Douglas in Sheffield yesterday.

The former Met Chief Supt is already leading the probe into allegations John Higgins agreed to throw frames for cash.

Snooker supremo Hearn said: “We want to do this to find out if we have a widespread problem”.

“We don’t know that yet but we need to look into it quickly. David is going to be in charge and will be very thorough.”

The anti-sleaze unit will take calls from players who are approached about throwing matches.

Wednesday 5th May 2pm

Dave Hendon appears to have called time on his blog for at least the time being. He hinted as such the other day.

Steve Davis on Twitter says that ‘The Players Wake Up Call Begins Tomorrow’, he meant today I think. For today is the day that Barry addresses the players.

Tuesday 9.26pm

A new twist? Or just old news? How Higgins was ‘stung’. I’ve never heard of ‘sportingintelligence.com’ (is that an oxymoron?). Anyway, here is their ‘information’, none of which to me gives any further insight.

And a Facebook campaign for John’s innocence . I haven’t joined. I’m hanging on for Mooney’s.

Tuesday 1pm

The Mirror continues it’s condemnation of Higgins.

David Douglas of the Yard to expand the investigation to other suspect matches says the Irish Times.

And that bastion of truth The Sun says what I have to say was a shell-shocked looking Steve Davis over the weekend will be Douggie’s ‘Man on the Inside’. To be fair there are some great Bazzisms in this one, such as his reference at the bottom to David Douglas.

Monday 7pm

I’ve been asked to post the following:

“Ukrainian National Federation of BILLIARDS SPORTS would like to inform that it was not aware of the arrival of John Higgins and Pat Mooney in Kiev. We do not know the purpose of their visit and we did not have any contact with them while they were in Kiev.”

– Vyacheslav Nezdymovskij, chief of the snooker department in Ukrainian National Federation of BILLIARDS SPORTS

And:

i have been on tour over 15 years and was offered money to throw a match in the uk champs along with another player so they could bet on a double .i thought about it for about 1 second.it would never enter my head to throw a match and i have earnt considerably less than john out of the game.if he is guilty he should be dealt with the same as quinten hann.guilty or not the damage is done if i was a potential sponser would i really want my company name to be associated with snooker.

(This one was posted anonymously)

From Dave Hendon Blog Comments

If they are struggling for sponsors perhaps we could start the Snookerbacker.com World Doubles Championships? First prize a ten pound off Co-op voucher and a bottle of Aldi Asti-Spumante? Runner up gets a Lottery Scratch Card.

Douglas of the Yard doesn't have a sense of humour

Monday 6.35pm

The Telegraph gets deep, they reckon Higgins is a right banker.

Monday 4.15pm

Barry Hearn’s Press Conference from earlier on at the Crucible (in 4 parts)

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four

Monday 3.10pm

Dennis Taylor has his say on video.

Monday 1.50pm

Clive Everton’s thoughts

Monday1.32pm

According to The Herald

The Herald visited Mr Higgins’s home in Bothwell last night but neighbours said he had been seen leaving earlier in the day, carrying suitcases.

(I hope he isn’t planning a nostalgic trip to Kiev)

Monday 1.08 pm

Barry Hearn currently addressing the press at the Crucible.

He said he is flabbergasted at the news, particularly as he’s known John Higgins for years.

‘We need to face the crisis head on and that’s what I’m going to do’.

Confirms that ‘Stephen Lee’ is being investigated.

‘I can cure snooker’

He has spoken to John ‘he is in bit’s’. They had a frank conversation, as a friend. ‘It doesn’t look good John, we’ve seen the video and it isn’t going to go away, if he is found guilty he will face the harshest penalty’

He still believes Higgins to be an honest man.

He ‘trusted’ Pat Mooney. There will be no World Series events. He is disappointed with Mooney, he has no future in snooker and he confirms that he asked him to resign, which he did. ‘He is a casualty of his own actions’.

‘We have a lot on our plate’

‘If sickness in snooker exists, I will get rid of it, in a brutal manner, all the players have to know that’

‘There is no excuse for gambling on snooker for players, there is no excuse for this type of behaviour’

‘We have no evidence whatsoever of any unusual betting patterns in this event’

‘I will not criticise the News of the World’

‘My style is much more head on than most’

‘Our sporting heroes should be ‘whiter than white’

Hearn was upset that he didn’t get a call from either Mooney or Higgins about the meeting straight after it took place.

Monday 12 noon

From The Mirror, I feared this would get dragged into it:

“Higgins’ second-round defeat to six-time champion Steve Davis two weeks ago was one of the biggest shocks in Crucible history. Snooker fans have demanded an inquiry into the upset. But sponsors Betfred said last night: “We do not believe the match between John Higgins and Steve Davis was fixed.”

Monday 9am

‘You can accuse us of being idiots but not match fixers’

Sunday 10pm

Clive Everton’s column, I won’t do the one down with one to play gag for John and Pat, they’re far too important for that.

Clive always talks sense.

Let John take care of the snooker side of things Pat.

Sunday 7.40pm

More clarification and the final nail in the coffin of Mr Mooney here. If this is true, I hope he knows a few people that are happy to employ older people to deliver newspapers and periodicals.

Sunday 7.10 pm

Sky News report that next week The News of the World will be releasing ‘further allegations’. It is not clear whether this relates to John Higgins or to any other players:

The News of the World is surprised at Pat Mooney’s comments that he felt intimidated whilst in Kiev given his relaxed manner and enthusiasm throughout his stay.

Mr Mooney also had three previous meetings during recent months with our investigations editor at bars and restaurants of his choosing in Edinburgh, a city he knows very well.

We assume Mr Mooney did not feel intimidated during these meetings where he openly discussed John Higgins and match fixing.

In a number of conversations he explained how a snooker game could be fixed, the amount of money required to facilitate it and repeatedly assured us that Mr Higgins would be “relaxed” with the arrangement.

At no time whilst in Kiev did Mr Mooney or Mr Higgins show any signs of being under duress or in any way unhappy at being in our company.

Our film and audio evidence on Mr Mooney and Mr Higgins are available to the World Professional Billiards & Snooker Association.

The News of the World will be publishing further revelations next Sunday.

Frame 4 - John's a cert.

Sunday 6.50pm

Thanks to Teo from Finland for posting the link to the earlier Sky News interview with Pat Mooney, click here if you missed it.

Sunday 2/5/10 6.20pm

John’s fans refuse to believe that he is in the wrong, these are among the people that the original article claims that he has betrayed. Let’s hope  that he can justify their unquestioning faith in their multi-millionaire idol.

Sunday 2/5/10 5.41pm

Fred Done, boss of BetFred pledges his commitment to the sport and says that he would offer a further 5 year deal to sponsor the World Championship ‘now’. ‘Let’s get talking o n how to improve things’ he says and shows full support to Barry Hearn.

Sunday 2/5/10 4.50pm

“Everybody is in shock. Everyone’s walking around in bits,” said Steve Davis.

“It’s the darkest day I’ve ever experienced in snooker. I’ve been talking to Ken Doherty, to John Parrott, and we all feel the integrity of the game has been put in question. It’s a horrible day.”

Asked whether Hearn might be tempted to walk away from snooker, Davis said: “There is the possibility that with Barry Hearn in the process of taking the game over, he may be able to cut the cancer out of it from day one.

“I’ve been speaking to Barry on whether he’s going to continue, or whether he’s going to drop the whole thing like a hot potato. He’s got tremendous credibility in the world of sport so does he want to be involved in something so tarnished? It’s a terrible hangover.

“I’d fully understand if Barry wanted to walk away but somebody needs to be in charge these days with a firm hand, now more than ever. That’s vital. He’s the only person who could dig the game out of the mire and the players need to realise that.

“There are other alleged incidents under investigation and no smoke without fire is bad enough but this has taken it to another level. The severity, the profile is just shocking.

“I think the integrity of the game has effectively evaporated overnight. It’s the lowest ebb it’s ever been. What a terrible wake-up call. It’s just too awful to contemplate.”

John Higgins maintains his innocence

Sunday 2/5/10 4.20pm

Renowned snooker ‘statto’ and friend of John Higgins, Phil Yates gives his thoughts in the Times here.

Sunday 2/5/10 3.00pm

John Higgins has said his “conscience is 100% clear” after he was implicated in a bribery scandal to fix the results of frames at future snooker tournaments.

Higgins issued a statement insisting that he has “never been involved in any form of snooker match-fixing” and that his “conscience is 100% clear”.

“Can I say that I have never been involved in any form of snooker match-fixing. In my 18 years playing professional snooker I have never deliberately missed a shot, never mind intentionally lost a frame or a match,” he said in a statement read out on the BBC before the start of today’s World Championship final.

“In all honesty I became very worried at the way the conversation developed in Kiev. When it was suggested that I throw frames in return for large sums of money, I was really spooked. I just wanted to get out of the hotel and on to the plane home.

“I didn’t know if this was the Russian mafia or who we were dealing with. At that stage I felt the best course of action was just to play along with these guys and get out of Russia [sic].

“Those who know me are aware of my love for snooker and that I would never do anything to damage the integrity of the sport I love. My conscience is 100% clear.”

Sunday 2/5/10 2.05pm

Barry Hearn says that this will be dealt with in days and weeks rather than months and years.

Ready, Aim, Fire - Hardman Barry has tough punishments lined up for wrongdoers

Sunday 2/5/10 2pm

Official World Snooker Statement

In relation to recent newspaper reports Barry Hearn, the WPBSA Chairman has released the following statement:

Pat Mooney has resigned from the WPBSA Board and his resignation has been accepted, with immediate effect.

John Higgins has been suspended from future WPBSA tournaments, pending an immediate enquiry.

The WPBSA enquiry will be headed by David Douglas and will be carried out with the utmost urgency. There is a process to follow in accordance with WPBSA rules, this process has been initiated.

This matter has brought the very fabric of the game into question and the strongest possible message needs to be sent out that this behaviour has no part to play in our game and will not be tolerated. Any wrong doing will be severely dealt with.

Sunday 2/5/10 1.50pm

Pat Mooney tells Sky News that Higgins has an ‘unblemished record’. He says that he feared for his life. They were sitting there for ten minutes while being filmed but he is insinuating that when off camera there were threats made to them. He welcomes the investigation and says that he will co-operate fully.

He also states that this meeting was the culmination of a number of other meetings, some held in Edinburgh.

Sunday 2/5/10 12 noon

Pat Mooney has resigned from World Snooker and John Higgins has been suspended from all tournaments pending a full investigation.

Barry Hearn sounds furious on Talk Sport and warns of the stiffest possible penalties for future things of this kind. He also confirms that he is ‘staying on’ as Chairman and will not let this scandal ‘ruin the great game of snooker’.

He says,’Never mind a woman scorned, hell hath no fury like a Chairman scorned’.

I think the ‘Yes’ vote for his plans is now as good as in the bag.

Sunday 2/5/10 1oam

BARRY TO MAKE DECISION WITHIN HOURS ON IMMEDIATE FUTURES

Barry Hearn, chairman of the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association, today promised a decision within hours on the immediate future of John Higgins and Pat Mooney in the sport.

Higgins and Mooney were filmed by the News of the World newspaper allegedly agreeing to accept £261,000 in return for arranging the outcome of four frames in matches to be played later this year.

Hearn, who is considering his own position, said an investigation would begin immediately and that Higgins may face a suspension.

‘I’ve read the piece, I’ve seen the video, I would imagine I can’t see any reason not to suspend him at this moment in time,’ Hearn said on BBC Radio Five Live. Click here to listen to Barry.

He added: ‘We’ll make a decision within the next 24 hours on how we’re going to play it.’

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