Claus Lundekvam’s former Southampton team-mate David Hirst has insisted the claims that spot-fixing was rife during their time at the club came as a “massive surprise”.
Hirst, the former England striker who spent most of his career at Sheffield Wednesday, was with Lundekvam at Southampton in the late 1990s when the Norwegian claims the players made money betting on events such as the first throw-in or corner.
But Hirst said if such fixing was taking place he was unaware.
He said: “It was a massive surprise to me that he came out with something like that.
“I was never aware of anything taking place like that, not at Southampton or Sheffield Wednesday or Barnsley – or England for that matter.
“I have never been involved in anything like that and I have never heard of players doing it anywhere.”
Lundekvam, who played for Southampton between 1996 and 2008 and went on to captain the team, told Norwegian radio station NRK that he, fellow players and opposition captains regularly made money by betting on and influencing in-game events such as first throw-in or first corner.
His claims raised the interest of world governing body FIFA, who began gathering information on the matter.
Several of Lundekvam’s Saints colleagues have subsequently denied involvement in any such schemes.
Matthew Le Tissier, who did admit to one isolated incident of attempted spot-fixing in his autobiography, said on Twitter: “Aside from that one incident in my book I’ve never been involved in any betting scams and have no idea of Claus Lundekvam’s claims.”
Francis Benali, who preceded Lundekvam as Saints captain, was even more forceful.
“I can say categorically I have no knowledge of the betting allegations made by Claus. Dressing rooms are very tight environments and if something was widespread, even if you weren’t part of it, you would hear it being discussed.”