Given he’s got an autobiography to sell, I’m not sure if it’s a good or bad thing for former England and Southampton star Matthew Le Tissier that the revelation he placed a spread bet on a game he played in hit the press today, well-buried under the Chelsea news. Le Tissier explained what he says was the only time he ever did this, betting on the time the first throw-in would come:
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.
The plan was for us to kick the ball straight into touch at the start of the game and then collect 56 times our stake. Easy money.
It was set up nicely. 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.
In perhaps an ironic admission of why his career — despite having arguably the best technique of any English footballer for a good couple of decades — never hit the heights it should have, Le Tissier went on to explain that they then had to scramble the ball out to avoid losing a lot of money on the spread bet as the time ticked on.
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.
It all sounds innocent enough when Le Tissier puts it like that, but of course, there’s no such thing as innocence when it comes to betting on a game you’re competing in. Had Le Tissier won and not had a scare, how far would he have gone in the future? As someone who recently attempted to head a consortium trying to buy Southampton, should the Football Association consider any retrospective sanction on Le Tissier, or is it way past time for that?