Ex Ipswich Town player Kevin Beattie sorry for benefits 'mistake'

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Media captionKevin Beattie said he had made a "silly mistake"

Former England footballer Kevin Beattie has apologised to fans for making a "silly mistake" in claiming benefits while working as a radio pundit.

Beattie, 58, who was a defender for Ipswich Town, has been fitted with a tag after being given a 12-week curfew.

"I'm a thick footballer and my brains are in my feet," he said. "I never meant to let people down."

Beattie admitted falsely claiming almost £9,000 by failing to declare he had begun work for BBC Radio Suffolk.

"After time things catch up and rightly so," he said. "It was a silly mistake on my behalf."

'Not bitter'

Beattie played for Ipswich during their most successful spell and Sir Bobby Robson described him as the best English player he had ever seen.

He was PFA Young Player of the Year, an FA Cup and UEFA Cup winner and won nine caps for England.

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Media captionKevin Beattie talks to Mark Murphy about money paid to today's footballers.

But his career was dogged by injury and all but ended at the age of 28, when he left Ipswich.

Thirty years later he is living in a council-owned bungalow in Wren Avenue in Ipswich, where he cares for his wife who has multiple sclerosis.

In an interview with BBC Radio Suffolk, Beattie was asked if he ever felt resentment towards today's footballers and the money they earn.

"I'm not bitter, good luck to them," he said.

"In my days there wasn't agents and the more money they get for the players, the more they make.

"But the way some of them flaunt it about does my head in a little bit - driving around in their flash Ferraris and spending £3m on a wedding, OK, but when you think about it there are little kids dying in the world."

Beattie said he was paid £250 a week towards the end of his playing career.

'Penny dropped'

"It was good money in those days, but of course it was tax deductible so I didn't see it all," he said.

On Tuesday, magistrates in Ipswich heard Beattie was paid £45 for Saturday matches and £75 for weekday matches by the BBC.

Image caption Beattie helped Ipswich Town win the FA Cup in 1978

He has since been fitted with a tag and is restricted to his house and garden between 20:00 and 07:00.

"That's my punishment and I'm taking it," he said. "I didn't realise I had to declare what I was earning."

He said the experience had been a wake-up call for him and that he was grateful for messages of support from fans.

"After 58 years the penny has dropped, it definitely won't happen again," he said.

Beattie said being forced to wear a tag was "a bit embarrassing", especially as he "always wears shorts".

BBC Radio Suffolk editor Peter Cook said Beattie would continue as a pundit for the station.

He said: "The BBC has given careful consideration to Kevin's future at the BBC.

"Kevin has accepted the court's ruling and apologised to the court and to the listeners of BBC Radio Suffolk.

"He is very grateful to still be broadcasting for the station about a game he loves."

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