John Sutton: Amateur player will contest match-fixing claims

By Frank KeoghBBC Sport
John Sutton
John Sutton fears the match-fixing allegations against him could halt his plans to become a foster parent

Amateur snooker player John Sutton says he has been "made a scapegoat" and plans to appeal against a decision to find him guilty of match-fixing.

Sutton, 34, told BBC Sport he is a victim of probability and assumption.

Suspicious betting patterns were reported after he lost 6-0 to Jamie Burnett in an International Championships qualifier last year.

"Straight away I gave over my phone, email account and my bank details as I had nothing to hide," Sutton said.

There is no suggestion Burnett was involved in any wrongdoing.

The World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA) ruled last week that Sutton was guilty of match-fixing and misusing inside information following an earlier hearing.

Irishman Sutton said he was given 10 days' notice of his invitation to the match in question, and that he felt unwell during the game after a long weekend with friends in Tipperary.

"During the match I knew I was struggling and was trying so hard to get something going but just felt empty and weak," he said.

Who is John Sutton?
Business development manager, aged 34
Practises between five and 10 hours a week
Is not a WPBSA member and does not hold a World Snooker tour card

The father-of-four from Drogheda added: "I will absolutely be appealing this.

"I honestly feel that I am being made a scapegoat as I'm a nobody in the world game. They can afford to brush me aside while being seen as flexing their muscles by showing zero tolerance for breaches of the rules.

"If there's evidence then [they should] make it a criminal case.

"I am a youth group leader in the local community and my wife and I are also trying to get on the list to become foster parents, both of which have had to be stopped because of these findings."

Sutton, who faces a lengthy ban, believes he came under suspicion as two men who placed big wagers on him to lose each practise at his local snooker club.

"They are not friends of mine but I do know them," Sutton said.

"They had another snooker bet on the same day and lost over £4,000 but this was not mentioned.

"Straight after the game I was called into the tournament director's office and it was explained to me about the suspicious betting patterns.

"The amount of anger and disbelief I felt cannot be described.

"I have never been approached by anyone about match-fixing or been aware of a situation of someone I know being approached."

The WPBSA has declined to respond to Sutton's comments, saying it would be inappropriate ahead of a sanction hearing, which is likely next month.