Preston North End footballers cleared of spot-fixing allegations

CPS halt football spot-fixing investigation
CPS halt football spot-fixing investigation
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Five Preston players and a former PNE player have been cleared of allegations of ‘spot-fixing’ in football.

On April 4 last year, John Welsh, Keith Keane, Bailey Wright, David Buchanan, Ben Davies and Graham Cummins were arrested by officers from the National Crime Agency and questioned over claims they had been deliberately booked during matches.

After questioning, they were released on police bail until the summer without charge.

Last July they were told by police that they had been released from arrest procedure and were no longer subject to police bail.

The Crown Prosecution Service have announced that the investigation against them and seven other players who were also arrested, has now been dropped.

The North End players had always strenuously denied any wrong-doing.

After their arrest PNE stood by them, with Welsh, Keane, Buchanan and Wright all continuing to feature in the first-team.

At the time of their arrest, Davies was on loan at York and Cummins on loan at Rochdale.

Teenager Davies returned to North End in the summer while Cummins was released at the end of his contract and subsequently joined Exeter.

It was a story in a Sunday tabloid newspaper which led to the police investigation.

Six players were arrested and questioned in December 2013. The arrest of the six PNE players and a Barnsley player in April was the second wave of the investigation.

Investigative reporter Mazher Mahmood played a major part in the newspaper story, and the reliability of his evidence was among the reasons why the CPS have dropped the case.

A CPS spokeswoman said: “A file was passed to the CPS in July 2014 from the National Crime Agency (NCA) in relation to alledged football match-fixing in 2013.

“This case involved evidence in relation to 13 suspects.

“The reliabilty of the evidence of one alleged witness in particular had to be very carefully considered.

“This was not the only evidence that was considered and when all the evidence submitted by investigators was carefully reviewed in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors, it was decided that there was insufficent evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction.

“We have informed the NCA of this decision and they have written to the suspects announcing that no further action will be taken.”

PNE have not commented on the matter.