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Last Updated: Sunday, 6 July, 2003, 13:29 GMT 14:29 UK
Browne flees home after hoax
Paul Browne
Paul Browne says it was a friend who made the hoax call
Shamed Paul Browne has fled Scotland and pleaded for fellow professionals not to make him a black sheep of football.

Browne was named as the hoax caller who persuaded Eddie Forrest to scrap his new contract with Arbroath.

And the former Raith Rovers defender claims that the backlash from fans and players have forced him into hiding in England.

Browne, who still insists that it was a friend and not himself who made the call, told the Sunday Mail newspaper: "I thought the hoax had been blown out of proportion.

"What started out as a storm in a teacup has escalated out of countrol, with all sorts of accusations being levelled at me."

I would never do anything to jeopardise a fellow player's career
Paul Browne
The 28-year-old has also denied being involved in cash gone missing at Raith's Kirkcaldy ground.

It was Rovers who launched an investigation after the hoax caller, claiming to be their chairman, offered Forrest a better contract than available from Arbroath, who subsequently turned to Browne instead.

The Kirkcaldy club announced on their website that Browne had confessed to making the call.

While Forrest has subsequently won a move to the Scottish Premier League with Partick Thistle, Arbroath scrapped their offer to Browne.

"Much of what has been written has made me out to be some kind of hate figure, which has been difficult to deal with," he said.

"I accept full responsibility for what's happened, but the reports have been especially vindictive and nasty."

Browne, who started his career at Aston Villa, says he has fled his Kirkcaldy home to protect his wife and newly-born son.

Partick boss Gerry Collins and Eddie Forrest
Eddie Forrest (right) has gone on to join Partick Thistle
"In my 12-year professional career, I've never had problems with any of the clubs I played for, but I realise this could leave a stain that will turn off future managers," he said.

"I have a few things lined up, but my biggest worry is this scandal following me about for the rest of my career.

"The calls to Eddie were made by a friend who thought he was trying to do me a favour, but it has made my life hell.

"I would never do anything to jeopardise a fellow player's career and his livelihood."

Forrest told BBC Sport on Saturday that Browne had phoned a number of times to apologise and congratulate him on his deal with Thistle but admitted that it was difficult to fully forgive the former Raith captain.




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