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By ESPN Staff

Criminal past caused Fulham to drop interest in Marlon King

Roy Hodgson has revealed Fulham terminated their interest in Marlon King when they discovered he had served a jail sentence.

King underwent a medical at Craven Cottage in January 2008 but owner Mohamed Al Fayed pulled the plug on the transfer because of his criminal past. Hodgson reflected on Fulham's failure to sign the disgraced Wigan striker, who was yesterday sentenced to 18 months in prison for sexual assault and actual bodily harm, as a lucky escape.

"I think we got lucky in that we didn't sign him. I'd only just come to the club and didn't know the player at all,'' he said. "All I knew about him was his goalscoring record and the information I was able to gather, which was not sufficiently detailed.

"There was a problem with the medical and it also became a problem when we found out he had a jail sentence. Mohamed Al Fayed was not at all keen on that so the transfer was allowed to collapse and he went to Wigan instead.''

The 29-year-old - who has 13 previous convictions including one for violence against women - was told by Wigan he was to be be sacked within an hour of being found guilty of the attack in a West End nightclub.

His agent, Tony Finnigan, was today bullish about his client's chances of being able to continue his footballing career, saying he was "110% certain'' a club would sign the striker. But Hodgson stressed Fulham would never consider reviving their interest in King.

"Marlon's agent is fairly clear on the subject and has a very cynical view,'' he said. "He believes there is no moral judgement in football and the fact the person we're talking about can score goals will blot any moral values people will have.

"I don't know if that's true, but I know he won't be signed by Fulham. The owner of our club would not embrace that type of signing and I as a manager would not embrace it.''

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes King should be allowed to return to the game after serving his sentence.

"I believe that you have justice and it's not my justice, it is the justice that England has decided to apply to his case,'' Wenger said. "When he has paid his sentence, of course you would consider signing someone like that. Otherwise you would never forgive anybody anything. When he has paid his sentence, some clubs if they want, they will take him.''

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