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Page last updated at 16:59 GMT, Friday, 17 September 2010 17:59 UK

John Higgins anticipates 'tough' comeback following ban


Higgins wants to 'move on' after scandal

John Higgins expects his comeback to snooker to be difficult when he returns from a six-month ban for bringing the sport into disrepute.

Three-time world champion Higgins was hit with the punishment at an independent tribunal last Wednesday but was cleared of a match-fixing charge.

"It's going to be tough," Scotland's Higgins told BBC Sport.

"Some players and fans will doubt me but I've just got to be myself and do my best."

Higgins was suspended after he and his then-manager, Pat Mooney, were filmed by the News of the World allegedly accepting £261,000 to fix matches.

It's going to be something that will shape my life

Suspended star John Higgins

The video, shot in April, appeared to show Higgins and Mooney, who has been banned from the sport for life, meeting with an undercover reporter in Kiev, Ukraine, and agreeing to alter the outcome of frames in return for money.

At last week's hearing, independent body Sports Resolution and the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA) judged that Higgins had brought the game into disrepute for not reporting the approach, and fined him £75,000.

However, they ruled there had been no dishonesty on Higgins's part, so the charges of "agreeing or offering" to accept bribes and "agreeing to engage in corrupt or fraudulent conduct" were dropped.

But despite being found not guilty of the more serious charges, Higgins, who has maintained his innocence since the newspaper first published the story on 2 May, admits that the controversy's legacy will haunt him throughout his career.

"I don't think it will ever be resolved really," said the former world number one. "There's still some things that are the in hands of lawyers, and I've got to trust them.

Players will have different opinions and it will be interesting to see how John will come back into the game

World champion Neil Robertson

"In a sense, I would love it to be behind me but it's going to be something that will shape my life and my family's life because it's not just me that's been through this."

Reigning world champion Neil Robertson believes it will take Higgins "a bit of time" to earn the respect of his fellow players when he returns to competition.

"Players will have different opinions and it will be interesting to see how John will come back into the game - and also how the crowds react," the Australian told BBC Sport.

"Now the verdict is out though, people are just looking forward to moving on."

Higgins, whose ban was backdated to May and ends on 2 November, will be eligible to resume his career in time for the fifth round of the Euro Tour Players Championship in Bradford, which begins on 5 November.

His first major tournament is scheduled to be the UK Championship in Telford, which starts on 4 December.

And despite his concerns about how the game will receive him on his return, Higgins is trying to maintain a positive outlook.

"I've got the right people and my family behind me," said Higgins. "I've just got to move on."

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see also
Neil Robertson Q&A
17 Sep 10 |  Snooker
Higgins' name is damaged - Hearn
09 Sep 10 |  Snooker
Higgins cleared of fixing claims
08 Sep 10 |  Snooker
Higgins report heads for tribunal
25 Jun 10 |  Snooker
Higgins determined to clear name
09 May 10 |  Snooker
Snooker on the BBC
08 Apr 11 |  Snooker

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