ACCUSED John Higgins admits he faces the biggest match of his life to clear his name of match-fixing allegations.
World No1 Higgins has been suspended by the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association after it was alleged in a Sunday newspaper that he agreed to throw frames for money.
But the 2009 world champion vehemently denies the claim and says he faces a long battle to rebuild his shattered reputation.
Higgins’ response to the speculation came as World Snooker chief Barry Hearn vowed to launch an investigation “in the fastest possible timetable” alongside ex-Metropolitan Police detective chief David Douglas.
Douglas will contact the News of the World this week to view video footage of the 34-year-old Scot and his manager Pat Mooney allegedly agreeing to accept £261,000 in return for fixing the outcome of four frames in matches to be played later this year.
Higgins, however, strongly contents his innocence. “Today is the start of the biggest match of my life,” he said. “It’s not the World Championship at stake, it’s something even more important, my reputation.
“I will cooperate fully with the snooker authorities. I have built my reputation on honesty and integrity.
“Sadly others have now damaged that reputation and it is now left to me to clear my name.
“I have never been involved in any form of snooker match-fixing. In my 18 years playing professional snooker I have never deliberately missed a shot, never mind intentionally lost a frame or a match.”
Hearn fronted a press conference yesterday, admitting he had spoken to Higgins since the allegations were made.
“There will be nothing, I repeat absolutely nothing, that will stop this matter being dealt with in the fastest possible timetable so we can have this matter resolved and get down to concentrating on what we love to concentrate on, this wonderful game,” he said.
“We had a very frank conversation because I was in a position to say ‘look, I’m not judge and jury here, my job is to refer it to the appropriate authorities. But as a friend, it doesn’t look good, John’.”