Higgins 'innocent' in match fixing row -- agent
Snooker star at tribunal after newspaper claims
Published 08/09/2010 | 05:00
SNOOKER star John Higgins' agent yesterday insisted that the former world number one is "100pc innocent" of match-fixing charges.
Mr Higgins was attending the opening day of a two-day tribunal in London to answer charges stemming from a press investigation.
"The tribunal has just started," Jim Cassidy said. "John Higgins is 100pc innocent of any aspect of match-fixing."
Mr Higgins, a three-time world champion, is answering the charges along with his manager, Pat Mooney.
The 35-year-old Scot was appearing at a behind-closed-doors hearing organised by Sport Resolutions, a London-based independent dispute resolution service.
Mr Higgins was suspended by World Snooker after the sport was rocked by the frame-fixing allegations in the 'News of the World' newspaper on May 2 -- the first day of the World Championship final.
The newspaper alleged that Higgins and his manager had agreed to take money to influence the outcome of matches.
Mr Higgins and Mr Mooney travelled to Ukraine where they met with undercover reporters posing as businessmen who they believed wanted to set up tournaments in the country.
Mr Higgins and Mr Mooney ran the World Series of Snooker, which staged tournaments in countries the main professional tour did not visit.
The 'News of the World' alleged they agreed to accept £261,000 (€315,000) for fixing the outcome of four frames in matches at the new events.
Mr Higgins swiftly denied the claims, saying: "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."
Mr Higgins insisted at the time of the allegations that he and Mr Mooney had feared they were in the company of "Russian mafia" in Kiev and decided "to play along with these guys and get out of Ukraine".
If Mr Higgins is cleared, he will be free to resume his playing career with immediate effect. Should the hearing find against him, however, he would face a long ban.