Football stars cleared over match fixing charges

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The Independent Online
The football authorities last night announced a high-powered inquiry into betting and match forecasting after a jury cleared four defendants, including the footballers John Fashanu and Bruce Grobbelaar, of a conspiracy to fix Premier League matches.

As three of the accused walked free - Grobbelaar, the former Liverpool goalkeeper, still faces a separate match-throwing charge - it was announced that Sir John Smith, the former Deputy Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, had already started the urgent investigation.

Outside the court, Fashanu said: "Throughout the whole two and a half to three years I've maintained my right to silence. During that time the only words I've said were 'not guilty'. I'm not bitter at all. Now all I want to do is get on with my family life with my beautiful wife and get back to friends."

Segers, who hopes to resume his playing career with Wolverhampton Wanderers, said he was "absolutely delighted" that his name had been cleared and Lim added that he had been "completely vindicated".

The verdict - in a 45-day re-trial after another jury failed to agree earlier this year - had come as a huge relief for the football authorities after the match-fixing allegations had threatened to engulf the sport in its worst scandal this century.

The jury of six women and five men at Winchester Crown Court found Fashanu, 34, who used to play for Wimbledon, Grobbelaar, 39, Hans Segers, 35, the former Wimbledon goalkeeper, and the Malaysian businessman Heng Suan Lim, 32, not guilty of conspiracy to give and accept corrupt payments to influence the results of football matches on behalf of a Far Eastern betting syndicate. The jury accepted the defendants' claims that they were involved in match forecasting, not fixing.

It will continue its deliberations this morning on whether Grobbelaar is guilty of accepting pounds 2,000 from Christopher Vincent, his former business partner, to fix matches for a separate - and fictional - syndicate.

Trial of the century, page 5

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