Le Tissier no Saint as betting scam exposed
Southampton legend Matthew Le Tissier has made the astonishing admission that he once attempted to influence a game in order to win large amounts of money on a spread betting scam.
Le Tissier, who now makes a living as a popular pundit, uncovered the incident in his new autobiography when detailing his involvement in an attempt to concede an early throw-in during a game against Wimbledon in 1995.
The forward, who won eight caps for England, stood to earn a significant amount of money if he cleared the ball into touch from the kick-off but underhit the ball, with team-mate Neil Shipperley scuppering his plot.
"Spread betting had just started to become popular. It was a new idea which allowed punters to back anything from the final score to the first throw-in,'' Le Tissier wrote in his autobiography Taking Le Tiss, serialised in the Daily Mail.
"There was a lot of money to be made by exploiting it. We were safe from the threat of relegation when we went to Wimbledon on April 17 and, as it was a televised match, there was a wide range of bets available.
"Obviously I'd never have done anything that might have affected the outcome of the match, but I couldn't see a problem with making a few quid on the time of the first throw-in.
"My team-mate had some friends with spread-betting accounts who laid some big bets for us. We stood to win well into four figures but if it went wrong we could have lost a lot of money.''
"It was set up nicely,'' Le Tissier added. "The ball was to be rolled back to me and I would smash it into touch. It seemed to be going like clockwork. We kicked off, the ball was tapped to me and I went to hit it out towards Neil Shipperley on the left wing.
"As it was live on television I didn't want to make it too obvious or end up looking like a prat for miscuing the ball so I tried to hit it just over his head. But with so much riding on it I was a bit nervous and didn't give it quite enough welly. The problem was that Shipperley knew nothing about the bet and managed to reach it and even head it back into play.
"I have never run so much in my life. If there had been Pro Zone analysis back then my stats would have been amazing for the next minute as I charged around the pitch desperately trying to kick the ball out of play.
"Suddenly it was no longer a question of winning money. We stood to lose a lot of cash if it went much longer than 75 seconds before the ball went out. I had visions of guys coming to kneecap me. Eventually we got the ball out on 70 seconds. The neutral time meant we had neither won nor lost. I have never tried spread betting since.''
Le Tissier scored 162 goals in 378 league starts for Southampton and fronted a failed bid to buy the club over the summer.