Belfast Telegraph

John Higgins braced for nervous wait as D-Day edges closer in match-fixing hearing

John Higgins will today reach the final stage in the quest to clear his name following the allegations of frame-fixing which rocked snooker.

The 35-year-old Scot, who firmly denies the allegations made against him, will appear at a behind-closed-doors two-day tribunal organised by Sport Resolutions, a London-based independent dispute resolution service.

Higgins is eager to clear his name and get back to playing, however there could be weeks of waiting ahead for the three-time former world champion if an independent panel, headed by Ian Mill QC, decide against announcing their verdict tomorrow.

If the panel can make a swift decision it will be delivered verbally to World Snooker and Higgins, and then made public.

However, the panel may elect to take two to three days before announcing the initial findings, and should the case prove sufficiently complicated they have the option of taking three to four weeks before delivering a full written verdict.

On May 2, the first day of the World Championship final, the News of the World alleged that Higgins and his manager Pat Mooney had agreed to take money to influence the outcome of matches.

Higgins and Mooney both travelled to Ukraine where they took part in a meeting with undercover reporters posing as businessmen who they believed were keen to set up tournaments in the country. Higgins and 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 in return for fixing the outcome of four frames in matches to be played later this year at the new events.

Higgins swiftly denied the claims, insisting in a statement: “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.”

However, he was immediately suspended and warned by Barry Hearn, the chairman of World Snooker, he would face “severe” punishment if the allegations could be proven.

World Snooker decided there was a case to answer, and they will present their case first at the hearing.

Higgins will then have the opportunity to tell his side of events before both sides give closing statements and the panel retires to consider the evidence.

If Higgins is cleared, he will be free to resume his playing career with immediate effect, and could make his comeback at the World Open in Glasgow, which begins on September 18.

Belfast Telegraph

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