'I LOST THREE HOMES' ‘I was £135,000 down when I was earning £130,000 a year’ – Chelsea legend Kerry Dixon reveals his extreme gambling addiction that left him in jail
'I LOST THREE HOMES'
‘I was £135,000 down when I was earning £130,000 a year’ – Chelsea legend Kerry Dixon reveals his extreme gambling addiction that left him in jail
Former England striker admitted his gambling addiction started at the age of 13
BY KERRY DIXON
31st August 2016
THEY say gambling is a mug’s game and I am one of the biggest mugs going.
It’s true that gambling is something of a disease in the football profession, but I went much further.
Some of my experiences proved to be downright surreal, even life-threatening.
Gambling was the root of all evils for me. It left me penniless and desperate, led me into many dangerous situations until I eventually ended up in prison.
There were occasions when I would have a drink late at night then drive home because I couldn’t afford a taxi.
How stupid could I be?
The chaos I caused personally would eventually derail my football career. My wages were good for those days, but I didn’t keep hold of a penny. It was all frittered away.
I became addicted to gambling aged 13 but I had no idea it was an obsession that would be my downfall.
By the time I reached the peak of my career it had become a disease that had taken a firm grip on my life.
I remember nipping down to Ascot one day and leaving with £35,000 in cash. One bookie had to close up as a result of my big betting.
I bet on some horses that I think are still running. I once put £4,000 on a horse that didn’t even run.
The losses mounted up alarmingly quickly and I began to find myself in terrible trouble with bookies, to the extent that over the years I have lost three homes.
I played football and gambled in a vicious circle in which all the money made playing went into gambling.
At one point in my Chelsea career, I was £135,000 down when I was earning £130,000 a year at my peak.
I urgently needed bailing out and went to the manager, Bobby Campbell, for help.
I’m guessing he went to the chairman and, whatever they decided to do, they sorted out some sort of deal. The bookies settled for £25,000 as a one-off payment and the club insisted that all my betting accounts were closed down.
Kerry Dixon talks about his favourite goal for Chelsea against Arsenal in 1984
But it was probably only a matter of weeks before the debts began mounting up again. I was out of control.
This was when the bookies began to send threatening messages. They were plain in saying they would soon be dispatching the heavies.
It got to the point where Chelsea chairman Ken Bates sent me to an addiction centre. I was supposed to go two days a week for a ten-week course but I only went three times.
I never wanted to leave Chelsea, but when Southampton came in with an offer in 1992 I had no option but to take it. My accumulated debts were to be paid out of my new contract, so it was a problem solved overnight.
An awful lot of money came in but it went out just as quickly. No one knew how badly I had fallen on hard times and I am sure they wouldn’t have sympathised if they did. I’d had enough chances and squandered them.
Towards the end of my career I took over a pub in Dunstable and had a nasty shock when the brewery demanded a business plan and £40,000 up front.
I was already more than £5,000 behind in beer sales, so the brewery began foreclosure and demanded £10,000.
I just didn’t have it. So they set a date by when I had to quit the pub.
I looked around at other potential venues as I liked being a landlord. But in 2000 the brewery had me declared bankrupt, ending any hopes I had of continuing the career.
When I went to prison last year, my lifelong gambling addiction actually helped me in a perverse sort of way.
You needed a thick skin and I had developed that through taking so many knocks and learning to fight back.
When I was inside I hoped at least the rest of the world would leave me in peace.
Not a bit of it. I received a threatening letter from the legal-aid system claiming I owed more than £5,000 in legal fees and that the bailiffs had been called.
People say that it’s tough at the top, but it’s a damn sight tougher at the bottom.
Extracts from Up Front by Kerry Dixon and Harry Harris (John Blake Publishing) available Friday priced £17.99.