English Football Star Caught Up in Fallon Scanda

7 November 2007

Disgraced jockey Kieren Fallon revealed today that he exchanged daily text messages with Newcastle United and England striker Michael Owen, who wanted information on his rides, but maintains his innocence in a race-fixing scandal.

Fallon and five co-defendants are on trial in London for attempting to defraud customers of online betting exchange Betfair. The charges stem from an investigation which focused on over 80 races that took place between December 2002 and September 2004. It was first brought to the public's attention in September 2004 when Fallon and 15 other individuals were arrested on racing corruption allegations. The five co-defendants include Miles Rodgers, Fergal Lynch, Darren Williams, Shaun Lynch and Philip Sherkle.

Fallon said in court today that Owen was one of "four or five" people, including Sherkle, with whom he exchanged texts and calls on a daily basis, but the information came out only when excerpts from a recorded police interview with Fallon were read in court. According to the transcripts, Fallon said thought his tips were only for Sherkle and did not know if they might be passed on.

"I thought that by texting Phil (Sherkle) he was having his own couple of quid on it," Fallon told police. "I do that with a lot of people. Michael Owen, every day texts me . . . Most guys, like I say Michael Owen, would only ring to talk about races . . . What Phil does with the information is out of my control."

He acknowledged, though, that Owen, a racehorse owner himself, was prone to the "occasional flutter."

The race-fixing is alleged to have been ring-lead by Rodgers, and Fallon continues to deny any involvement or knowledge of wrongdoing.

The case, nearing the end of its sixth week, continues in London.