Preston North End footballer Keith Keane has spoken of his ’nine months of hell’ after he was falsely accused of being embroiled in an international betting scandal.
Keane and five team mates were arrested in April over ‘spot-fixing’, amid claims that they had deliberately picked up bookings during matches.
The midfielder, Bailey Wright, David Buchanan, Ben Davies, John Welsh and former PNE player Graham Cummins were told in July they were no longer subject to bail, and the case against them was finally dropped by the Crown Prosecution Service last week.
Keane has now told of his ‘living nightmare’ and believes he and his fellow footballers should never have been arrested in the first place.
He said: “It was the worst time of my life. I’m upset I have been brought into something that I had absolutely nothing to do with.
“I’m still in disbelief that this all went on. There are some people that still think I’m involved in some sort of scandal.
“It caused a lot of stress for me and my family.
“I was left in the dark for nine months. I spent everyday thinking am I going to be arrested? It was always playing in the back of my mind.
“But I would never do something like that.”
Keane, who has been at the club for more than two years, described the ordeal as ‘the worst period of his life‘ and that his team mates had all suffered just as much.
“I’m an honest player,” he said. “I’d never try and cheat the game.
“Our pictures were plastered all over the papers and I will always be associated with this when we weren’t even charged.
“I’m not a gambler, I don’t even bet. That is why I’m so confused by the whole situation. I’m just glad we have been cleared because we are 100% innocent.”
The midfielder spent the first part of this season on loan at Crawley Town and he admitted he initially thought the arrest was a prank.
He said: “At first I thought they were playing a joke on me.
“But I looked at the manager Simon Grayson and I said ‘yeah good one’.
“And he just said no, this is real.
“The next thing I know I was being marched out of the training ground by police. Me and the others spent the first few days laughing about it, we just couldn’t believe what was going on.”
And Keane revealed he could not have got through the last year without the support of the other five players, his family, friends, the PNE staff and most importantly the fans.
He said: “We all stuck together and we all believed in each other.
“I’d like to thank the fans, the PNE staff, the club and my family and friends. They have backed me from day one.
“The other players have all appreciated their backing and the best way to repay their faith is by getting promotion this year.”