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Friday 19 January 2018

Whittingham 'sickened' by Sam Sodje's match-fixing claims

Sam Sodje, who has made match-fixing claims, during his days with Charlton
Sam Sodje, who has made match-fixing claims, during his days with Charlton

Matt Law

Guy Whittingham has branded Sam Sodje’s Portsmouth match-fixing claims as "sickening".

Defender Sodje boasted how he punched Oldham's Jose Baxter in the groin to get sent-off and earn a £70,000 bung last season.

Whittingham was Sodje's Portsmouth manager and was stunned to read the claims in a national newspaper on Sunday morning.

And Whittingham, who was sacked as Portsmouth manager last month, also revealed how Sodje had the front to apologise for the red card immediately after the game.

Sodje played nine games for Portsmouth under Whittingham, before being released in July.

"The story came as a total shock," said 49-year-old Whittingham. "It is sickening to see this in the game, particularly when it involves a player and club I managed.

"My first reaction was shock at what Sam had done, but then you think of the money he earned from it and the redundancies and people who lost their jobs at Portsmouth over the last few years.

"I just can't understand Sam's reasons for doing it, especially when you think of all the money in the game. Why would you do it?

"I didn't suspect anything when Sam got sent off, even though it was an extremely strange incident. It was over something he was nothing to do with and it was only five minutes into the second half.

"He apologised to the rest of the team after the game because we only lost 1-0 and we probably had a chance of getting something until he was sent-off.

"I had signed Sam and he was generally a good lad to manage, that's why it's such a shock. I thought he was a team player and he was decent around the changing room.

"We let him go at the end of the season, when we came out of administration, for footballing reasons. It was myself and the club who decided to let him go, but not because we suspected any wrong-doing."

Sodje's match-fixing claims are being investigated by the National Crime Agency and could also be scrutinised by the Football League, Premier League and FA.

"If anybody wants to talk to me about it, then I'm happy to do so," said Whittingham. "There is certainly nothing to hide."

Despite 34-year-old Sodje's claims, Whittingham has not been put off the prospect of trying to return to management.

"I want to get back into the game as soon as possible," he said. "I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Portsmouth and I want another go."

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