Blackburn Rovers set to hold talks with DJ Campbell about his future

Blackburn Citizen: Blackburn Rovers set to hold talks with DJ Campbell about his future Blackburn Rovers set to hold talks with DJ Campbell about his future

BLACKBURN Rovers are set to hold talks with DJ Campbell over his future following his arrest by police probing spot fixing allegations in football matches.

The 32-year-old was quizzed by National Crime Agency officers following an investigation by a national newspaper.

Campbell’s tackle against Ipswich Town’s Aaron Cresswell during a league game last Tuesday is understood to be under scrutiny. The club confirmed his arrest in a short statement yesterday.

A spokesman said: “Following reports in the national media, Blackburn Rovers can confirm that striker DJ Campbell has been arrested.

“The club will be making no further comment on what is now an ongoing legal matter.”

Campbell failed to turn up to training this morning but his representatives have been in touch with Rovers officials. It remains to be seen if Rovers will follow the example of other clubs and suspend the player as he has not been charged with any offence. He is set to answer bail in April.

Campbell, who has played top flight football for Birmingham and Blackpool, was arrested on Sunday morning, hours after making a substitute appearance for Blackburn against his most recent club QPR.

He was the most high-profile name to be detained so far in relation to claims of spot fixing by illegal betting syndicates. Campbell, who is one of Rovers’ highest earners, is a former team-mate of Sam Sodje, who he played with during his time at Brentford. Former-Portsmouth player Sodje, 34, was also arrested after it was claimed he took a five-figure bung to get sent off during the game against Oldham in February.

In a video, undercover investigators are allegedly told it could be arranged for players to be booked or sent off at a specified moment in a match. Sodje’s brothers Akpo Sodje, from Tranmere Rovers, and Stephen Sodje, a former Portsmouth player, were also arrested, on Sunday as was Oldham Athletic’s Cristian Montano and Tranmere Rovers’ Ian Goodison.

The National Crime Agency has not released the exact offence they have all been arrested over.

In a statement, the Football Association (FA) said: “The FA is aware of the NCA investigation and is working closely with the NCA and other authorities.”

Former Professional Footballers’ Assocation chairman, Clarke Carlisle, said an increase in the number of betting markets in recent years had made it ‘very easy to manipulate a single incident’.

"Influencing a match used to be wholly more complex because it's 22 men - or 25 if you're including officials - who you need to get to," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"But now something as simple as a booking, a red card - these can be manufactured incidents.

"I think the betting markets are something that we could have a look at as an industry."

A Gambling Commission spokesman said: “We have responded quickly in supporting this ongoing National Crime Agency investigation and continue to liaise with both the NCA and the Football Association.”

And the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) said: “These allegations, if proven, unfortunately demonstrate the real issue football faces in terms of corruption and highlights the necessity of the work carried out by the PFA and other stakeholders in the game in educating players of these risks.

”We take the issue of integrity very seriously and will continue in our efforts to eradicate this evil from our game.

“In terms of these specific reports, due to the ongoing investigation by the National Crime Agency, we are unable to comment further at this time.”

Blackburn Rovers legend, Kevin Gallacher, said some elements of spot-fixing, where a specific part of a game is fixed, are ‘very hard to track down’ and said he was shocked at the news.

He said: “When it’s a player earning good money anyway you’re scratching your head as to why would he need to do it. Is it the excitement or the idea that they will never get caught?

“You just have to look at what’s happened across the continent with footballers and crickets getting two-year bans or banned for life. If that happens in football your career’s over.

“If you get proven guilty for anything like that you know it’s going to be a ban and probably the cancellation of your contract, which means you won’t be getting any money.”

And Burnley boss, Sean Dyche, said he was sure the facts will come to light.

He said: “I don’t know a lot about it other than what we’ve read in the papers so I’m sure the powers that be will sort out what the ins and outs of it and what the facts are.

“There’s a lot at stake, don’t forget. “If it is a problem the depth of it will soon come to light.”

Chief executive of the Football League, Shaun Harvey, added: “We treat any allegations of criminal activity in our competitions with the utmost seriousness.”

It is the second time in four years that East Lancashire has been rocked by match-fixing allegations. In 2009, three Accrington Stanley players were charged with betting on the outcome of their game against Bury the year before.

James Harris, David Mannix, and Robert Williams - as well as Bury’s Andrew Mangan - were handed suspensions and fines. And last month, non-league players Chann Sankaran, 33, Krishna Sanjey Ganeshan, 43, Michael Boateng and Hakeem Adelakun, both 22, were all charged by police investigating separate allegations.

Boateng and Adelakun, footballers with Conference South team Whitehawk FC, were bailed to appear before magistrates tomorrow. Sankaran and Ganeshan were charged on November 28 and were remanded in custody.

They will appear at Crown Court on Friday. All four have been charged with conspiracy to defraud.


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