2.5.10

JOHN HIGGINS ACCUSED IN 'BRIBE' STING

John Higgins, the three times world champion and new world no.1, has been accused by tomorrow's News of the World of agreeing to accept money to lose frames in the World Series he jointly promotes with his manager, Pat Mooney.

The full story is here.

Of course, this is only the newspaper's side of things and I would like to hear Higgins and Mooney's before passing judgement.

However, this is potentially the biggest scandal ever to hit the game and needs to be dealt with urgently, not least to safeguard snooker's public image whatever the truth of the allegations.

Mooney's position on the WPBSA board is untenable. He has to resign to protect the integrity of the sport.

There should be a disciplinary hearing convened as soon as possible, preferably conducted independently of this WPBSA administration or any other.

Higgins - and Mooney - could then present their side of the story and explain themselves. Video evidence gathered by the newspaper should also be studied.

Sympathy should be with Neil Robertson and Graeme Dott, who are about to play the biggest match of the year in the shadow of this grubby tale.

39 comments:

Anonymous said...

Oh my God!

Thraxas said...

They really couldn't have timed this any worse, could they? Biggest match of the year starting tomorrow and now this is all that'll be talked about.
I agree that we need to hear Higgins's and Mooney's own side of things, but if there's any truth at all in this I just cannot believe they'd be so stupid. Sure it's a lot of money, but they're hardly paupers as it is.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dave,

What is more worrying is the fact that Hearn has already gone on record with a statement about this snooker 'sting.' If he'd have come out with a 'no comment' I would've thought the story was a no go. But he has made a big statement, which tells me, that there is something in this.

To see Pat Mooney in those shots has stunned me. Higgins, well, money talks obviously for John. Like it did in 1995 for Francisco.

What I cannot understand is, this was last week and they're talking about throwing frames in European World series. So was Mooney/Higgins planning on setting up the world series venture again, behind Hearn's back, or was this the NOTW's tournament?

I wouldn't worry so much about tomorrow or Monday's final, i'd be worried about the vote of the game, and the future...because this really could be the final nail in the coffin of the game, if this story is true about one of the most squeaky clean players in the history of the sport.

Thanks, Joe

Anonymous said...

All I have to say is How F*****G stupid can they be. I know Pat Mooney and John Higgins. They deserve to be hung, drawn and quartered if this proves to be true.

Trophymad said...

I wonder how much of this scandal has political strings on it? Getting Mooney of the new board weekens Hearns position. Making Higgins drown in such a scandal robs Hearn of one of his flag beares. So... How much of this scandal is really the scandal? Is it just happenstance that this comes to light now? I wonder...

Anonymous said...

They said they feared for their safety in Kiev. It didn't look like they were in fear, did it?

Bryan said...

I watched the video on notw website and iam sickened

Anonymous said...

Francisco was banned for five years, and Hann was given an eight year ban for a similar newspaper 'sting' ...

So Higgins MUST be looking at ten years-plus

Or will Barry say he was just misunderstood?

Anonymous said...

craziest video I've ever seen

Alan Williamson said...

I am truly sickened and disgusted at this development. The video evidence is hard to dispute.

This casts a big shadow on all our houses not just the professional circuit. Snooker, along with golf, as the reputation of being the most honest sport. Players will speak up if they foul and the ref failed to spot it.

We all pride ourselves on this particular fact. We are not like footballers that crawl around the ground balling our eyes out claiming the world is against us.

John Higgins will never recover from this, as now, all his wins and losses will be cast in doubt for here on in.

Never before have i been as shocked

Janie Watkins said...

Totally devastating. Not only the story but the fact that it features John Higgins.

Everyone here at the Crucible is in numbed shock at the news and fears for the whole future of the sport at professional level.

It would not surprise me one bit if Hearn walked out the door, because even with his talent he'll struggle to pull in sponsors when the world's number one is implicated in something like this.

It makes me sick to my stomach and for me this is the saddest day in my thirty odd years involvement in the sport.

If I could, I would seriously consider walking away from the sport tomorrow.

I feel desperately sorry for both finalists,but even more so for Graeme Dott, whose achievements in 2006 went largely unheralded and he's in the same management stable at Higgins.

I dread to think what sort of state of mind the two players will be in ahead of the final.

For those who want to tune in Barry Hearn will be on Radio Five Live around 8.30-8.40am in the morning giving his reaction.

The video is one of the sickest things I've ever seen.

CHRISK5 said...

In his 1990 premature retirement speech - Alex Higgins said that Snooker was the most 'corrupt' game on earth.

Now,his namesake John Higgins faces a similar scenario in 2010!

Other innuendo can wait.

The fact is - Was Tobacco sponsorship too high a price to pay for Snooker ? - NO

Is gambling firms being involved in Snooker to high a price ? - NO

Seemingly 'good' or 'bad' news creates publicity for the game &
any inquiry will be a whitewash!

So called 'match fixing' probably goes on alot more than what is displayed in the public domain.

It comes back to my intitial thesis for snooker's future.

Have more tournaments that mean something & where high pressure situations make the player much more reluctant to take a 'bung' or a meaningless 'loss' (on the table)

All these short-format miscallenious type events (PTC or
World Series) are more vulnerable to these offers - As the matches themselves are not likely to determine a player's career path as such.

Then again,they were probably created for that means anyway!

CHRISK5 said...

We must all realise this latest 'development' is a subplot in a much bigger context.

Anonymous said...

Whoa whoa whoa, steady on everyone, although the evidence is alarming lets hear 2 sides to the story. Many years back a story broke out of the Liverpool goalkeeper Bruce Grobbelaar who was recorded on tape match fixing for a betting syndicate. After 2 trials Bruce who pleaded not guilty was cleared. Lets just wait and see..

Sonny said...

Well I spent a fair while chatting to Pat Mooney at the Crucible and I'm very shocked by this. The promised interview with John Higgins is the least of it, the bulk of the conversation centered around the rejigging of the ranking system, and after an in depth conversation I knew the man was on my wavelength about what needed to be done and he had the right ideas to bring to the table which will revitalise the whole qualification/ranking system and make it almost as exciting as tonights match.

I hope to god these changes do take effect. I also hope people like our Dave H here don't lose faith in the beautiful game which was demonstrated in it's highest possible caliber this evening with Mark Selby and Graeme Dott playing snooker from the gods.

Alain (not Robidoux) said...

Caught by the oldest trick in the world: the good old hidden camera...

If this is true, i don't see how these guys will be able to deny this. I mean, how stupid can you be?

Human nature will never cease to amaze me...

Now, who will be the next one to take the dark side of the force path? Roger Federer?

Anonymous said...

The video on the NOTW website is ridiculous. It is so edited that you really can't say what the discussion was all about, or in what order the different bits and pieces where discussed in. Or what it was they MAYBE agreed on in the "end". Or what was toasted.

I am not saying that the story isn't true, but that can't be judged based on the so called evidence on the website. Might as well be a set-up. And this is NOTW, for crying out loud. What a scam.

But the sad thing is of course that the damage is pretty much already done.

Anonymous said...

It's a variation on the Grobbelaar defence. The NOTW have either left themselves open to the biggest libel case ever or this is true. I am inclined to think that this is true.

Why would you agree to meet someone in Kiev, who you had met earlier in Scotland if you thought that they were Russian mafia or whatever the defence is. It doesn't stand up.

My problem with the Stephen Maguire allegations is I can't see why people would go to a lot of trouble to get a small amount of money. I don't know the figures off hand now but it was small money- and then when you need more than one person to organise a betting coup- the 'slice' of the pie for everyone doesn't look worthwhile. But here the money like with Quinten Hann looks like you might do what you were asked if you were dishonest.

It seems that this manager should resign- even if it were not true it is too much of a distraction from the admin of snooker for him to stay and clear his name and be on the board. It also seems that Higgins should go the way of Hann except in this instance I think the ban should be for life. If you are world no 1 then the sanction should be stiffer.

Eurig Jones said...

Imagine if Higgins made it through to the final! Oh man, I hate the British papers.

Anonymous said...

I know this sounds farfetched but in Russia and Ukraine criminal gangs have a lot of power so it is possible that they were in fear.

Anonymous said...

I posted a comment to this blog several weeks ago that the sport had about as credibility as cycling and bodybuilding. The comment wasn't published.

C'mon, Dave. Let's see if you publish this one!

Betty Logan said...

This has just been a huge misunderstanding! There have been Eastern European gangsters trying to infiltrate the game for a while now and I imagine Pat Mooney and John went undercover to try and root it out.

Anonymous said...

I gather Higgins is using the Russian mafia as a reason for this. If he told someone at the time, if he is on record somewhere reporting this incident it will greatly strengthen his case.

Anonymous said...

Dave - You say "this is only the newspaper's side of things", but have you seen the video? I'm sorry, but it's impossible to come up with an innocent explanation - they were obviously agreeing to take money in return for throwing frames, the fact that it was 'only' the World Series changes nothing. I've lost all my respect for Higgins, and if Barry Hearn is serious about taking the sport forward he HAS to ensure Higgins won't be part of it!

Dana said...

Joe, where is statement of Barry? Cannot find any.

Devils Advocate said...

I'm pleased that Barry Hearn went on 5 Live's sportsweek earlier and promised an investigation (as he did in the NOTW piece). I'm also pleased that, as usual, he pulled no punches and didn't rule out a ban for Higgins.

I agree with Dave that Higgins and Mooney need to put their side of the argument across and no doubt they will argue their innocence - rightly or wrongly. But without sounding too judgemental the video evidence speaks for itself.

Higgins may not have thrown any actual frames but his apparent willingness to do so means he hasn't got a leg to stand on. I can't believe someone of his standing could even think of behaving so selfishly and disgracefully. As for Mooney, all that can be said is that, as Dave has already pointed out, his position is untenable.

Hearn must be absolutely seething. As I said, his pledge to an immediate investigation is welcome but his plans to revitalise the sport have taken a major hit through because of the seemingly selfish acts of two people he thought he could trust. Mooney and Higgins were two of his main supporters. Snooker could now be back in the gutter.

I also feel very sorry for Neil Robertson and Graeme Dott, two players who have shown a great will to win (and integrity) this week but whose own achievements will now be overshadowed by the Higgins scandal.

Andrew Roberts said...

This is completely bizarre - you can understand players whose careers are on the skids being tempted, but Higgins?

Anonymous said...

On a positive note, at least he wasn't offering to throw a frame/match in a world ranking event.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dave i have wathched the notw video and read the article and i am gobsmacked at this.I find it difficult to take in that john higgins would be stupdid enough to get involved in something like this.The question is if the world champion and world no 1 is at it then who isnt?I was so looking forward to the final but this has left a sour taste in the mouth.

Anonymous said...

WSS events are being pulled into World Snooker and will indeed be ranking events as explained in Barry's letter to the players.

No positive note here I'm afraid

Anonymous said...

Barry Hearn talked about walking away from the sport this morning. We'll have to wait and see what happens when he meets the players next week.

I honestly can't see any sponsors coming on board now. If it was a journeyman pro then it can be swept aside, but the world number one and still the current World Champion! Any potential sponsor, especially bookmakers, will not want their names associated with snooker any more.

And with no sponsors, we've effectively got a part time professional sport.

Anonymous said...

You can just imagine Dennis Taylor reading out today's pulse vote: "So, today's Pulse vote, is snooker fixed?"

CHRISK5 said...

Anon 11.11AM - Good point,if there were a greater proportion of high pressure ranking events - compared to two-bit invitationals - then the chances of a match fixing scenario would be much reduced.

Also,if the bookmakers are taking bets on the 'staged' Davis/Taylor exhibition & almost irrelevant
PTC or World Series 'matches'.

What next - Taking bets on WWE
wrestling ''outcomes''!!

All very nice for those with insider knowledge.

The strands of corruption are so deeply entrenched in Snooker & other sports - Nothing is a
surprise anymore & with the premise
that you only know what you are told to believe.

Most people are so self-deluded anyway - They don't deserve to know the real truth!

Anonymous said...

It CANNOT be true. Having read the NOTW article and watched the video here's what may have happened:

1)John and Pat were under threat. This is something that happens in that part of the world: you turn up to meet potential sponsors of a respectable company -you are put under threat and you have to say whatever is necessary to leave the country alive. Think about it -the "potential sponsor" aka NOTW journos stand to make a lot of money out of this -a lot of money!
2)the video is clearly edited -how can it stand up as any kind of reliable evidence???
3) so let's wait and see what John and Pat have to say about it

NewsBrain said...

hi dave

what a disaster, is this the end of snooker?

for those of you who think higgins Russian mafia has crediblity, you must be totally, utterly stupid.

of course, the website/story may have mild elements of exaggeration but there is little or no defence here (not an obvious one anyway)

NotW did this to Hann and it is almost as if they just sit there and suck in whoever they like, such is the endemic dishonesty in the sport.

make MPs look like saints.

Higgons was always squeaky clean and personable

either he has amassed huge debts or more likely is just a very very stupid boy, almost a simpleton outside of the table.

clearly, there is something in the water in the glasgow area.

there's no coming back from this dave, how did you scribes miss this..........

Anonymous said...

I would like to give Higgins the benefit of the doubt as I cannot believe the world number one and world champion and the most respected modern day player in the game could behave so selfishly and stupidly and risk the hih standing he has in the game. If Higgins and Mooney were genuinely in fear of their lives or if the News of the World heavily edited the footage which is also likely, then fair enough and Mooney has done the right thing by resigning from World Snooker.
If Higgins really is guilty then I hate to say it but he must be banned for life. This from the world no.1 would be the death knell for the game.
Alpha

David B said...

Snooker fixed? You must be joking. You'll be telling me next that WWE Wrestling is fixed!
John Higgins is being declared guilty quicker than an O'Sullivan 147. What happened to innocent until proven guilty - key word here is proven. As another has already posted if John was in fear believing it was the Russian mafia involved and just agreed with everything to get out of there, did he report the attempt to bribe him to the governing body or any other player or official? There is more to come out yet and we must wait for all the evidence. Speculation and condemnation on this blog is as damaging as the alleged offence itself. Higgins says he's innocent. Let us allow him to prove that. If that is the case then he and snooker's governing body should sue the NOTW into oblivion.

Anonymous said...

John Higgins is the reason why i started watching snooker he is my favourite player and i cant believe what has happened!Even if he is proving innocent people will allways wonder when he loses did he lose on purpose and he only has himself to blame!

Sad day for snooker but i hope its good to show other players that they should not be doing this!

Anonymous said...

Whatever the outcome, the NOTW has actually given Barry Hearn the chance to commit to snooker, show how strong his leadership is (which he is clearly demonstrating now) and to clean up snooker for a fresh start over the coming weeks.
I was not a fan of his appointment and proposed master plan, especially after some dubious board appointments. (leave you to ponder that one).

I have now become a fan after his handling of this situation and his pledge to face things head on and not scurry away.

Thing is, in a couple of years, when things have hopefully settled, snooker may actually attract MORE sponsorship and MORE interest, when the general public know that those they are watching are either in it for the love of the sport or just too damn scared to act like a crook and sponsors will have a clean sport for a change to associate themseves with.

Believe me....all news is good news, sometimes it just takes a while for the benefits to filter through.

I once lost £1,100 cash on a fixed horse race.

It was pubicised and proven to have been fixed.

Never saw my money again.

Would I back a horse tomorrow....sure I would.

The future of snooker is bright and while Hearns proposal appears flawed in places, if its the difference of him staying or going, then vote it in players, vote it in.