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Last Updated: Friday, 21 May, 2004, 02:08 GMT 03:08 UK
Leicester trio charges 'dropped'
Keith Gillespie, Frank Sinclair and Paul Dickov
The players were on a training break in La Manga, southern Spain
All charges have been dropped against three Leicester City football players accused of sexual assault in Spain, the club has told the BBC.

Paul Dickov, Frank Sinclair and Keith Gillespie will not face further action, said chief executive Tim Davies.

The footballers were charged after three women accused them of serious sexual assault at a hotel in La Manga.

Mr Davies said the trio would not have to go back to Spain, where they spent a week in jail before being freed on bail.

Hopefully, all our lives can now get back to normal as quickly as possible and we can concentrate single-mindedly on the football
Keith Gillespie
Leicester City player

He said: "As far as we are concerned it is great news and that's what the players and their families would like to focus on."

Gillespie said later in a statement: "I am delighted that we have all been totally vindicated in this matter.

"Hopefully, all our lives can now get back to normal as quickly as possible and we can concentrate single-mindedly on the football."

Nine players were originally arrested in March after the three women complained to police at Alicante airport, as they were about to fly home to Germany.

All criminal charges against them have now been dropped, with only formal legal paperwork to complete, Leicester City said.

Forensic tests

Lawyers for Dickov, 31, Gillespie, 29, and Sinclair, 32, successfully applied to Judge Jacinto Areste for them to be cleared at a hearing in Cartagena on Thursday morning.

Prosecution lawyers now have a short period in which they can apply to appeal against the decision.

Mr Davies said he had exchanged texts with the players but had not spoken to them.

"They are obviously relieved that their innocence has been proved," he said.

"As a club, we have consistently maintained our total faith in the Spanish judicial system and welcome the news that justice has been seen to be done."

The results of forensic tests released earlier this week showed no link between the three footballers and their accusers.

How much it has affected morale at the club is impossible to say
Tim Davies, chief executive of Leicester City FC

Mr Davies said the club, which had taken its squad to the La Manga sports complex on a training break, had learnt serious lessons from the incident.

"In hindsight we wish we had put a curfew on them, we wish we had been out with them but that didn't happen at the time," he said.

"Obviously we need to approach what we do - whether we go on tours in the future abroad - as a club and make sure our players' conduct rules are appropriate."

Mr Davies admitted the arrests had not helped in a season which ended with Leicester City's relegation from the Premiership.

'Not proud'

"It has been a difficult time at the club," he said. "How much it has affected morale at the club is impossible to say."

Mr Davies told the BBC he was not proud of the behaviour of the players, some but not all of whom had been drinking on the night in question.

He said: "They were out as a group together and I've already said they should not have been out in a group together.

"It was 14 days before a match and they are not proud of it and I am not proud of them being out at 4am.

"They should have gone to bed early as many of the players did."

Thursday's legal decision leaves Matt Elliott, Lilian Nalis, James Scowcroft, Nikos Dabizas and Danny Coyne, who had all been on bail after the allegations, in the clear.

The ninth player initially arrested, Steffen Freund, had already been released without charge.




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's James Munro
"The case has still damaged Leicester's reputation as a family club"



SEE ALSO:
Leicester defend accused players
18 May 04  |  Leicestershire
Players' case 'may take months'
18 Mar 04  |  Leicestershire
Leicester footballers back in UK
12 Mar 04  |  Leicestershire
Profile of Leicester stars
05 Mar 04  |  Leicester City


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