Chopra can’t afford legal challenge in corruption case
Former Newcastle striker Michael Chopra has revealed his gambling problems have left him with insufficient funds to afford the £50,000 legal fees required to defend himself against allegations of fixing a horserace.
The Ipswich Town forward has said he would not be attending the hearing, brought forward by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA), due to start on Monday.
Chopra is among three footballers facing charges for exploiting inside information concerning horse races ridden by former UK-based flat jockey Andrew Heffernan.
Doncaster midfielder James Coppinger, who previously played for Newcastle and Darlington, and England under-21 international Mark Wilson were also charged by the BHA.
In a statement released on Ipswich Town’s website, Chopra, 29, said: “I have extensive debts and loans and simply cannot afford the amount of money necessary to clear my name.”
The former England Under-21 international said he had been advised that even if found innocent, his legal costs would not be refunded by racing’s governing body.
Chopra said that not being licensed by the BHA, he was not subject to its rules, and that the only punishment that could be imposed on him would be a ban from racecourses and premises it licenses, a penalty he accepts would help him resist further gambling.
He said: “It is well publicised that I have a gambling addiction problem and I see any such sanctions as being a useful mechanism in helping me to address these problems.
“As of this year, I’ve voluntarily excluded myself from all betting institutions from where I live in Ipswich in order to help me fight this illness.”
Meanwhile Coppinger has already said he would fight the allegations to clear his name.