Town Lent Chopra £250,000 to Pay Off Debts
Wednesday, 14th Dec 2011 12:23
Town lent striker Michael Chopra £250,000 to pay off his gambling debts, it emerged at a trial at Newcastle Crown Court yesterday. Defendants charged with processing and supplying cocaine claim £50,000 in cash found in a car related to a debt repayment made by the 27-year-old frontman, who recently spent three weeks in the Sporting Chance Clinic as he tackles his long-term gambling issues.
Blues chief executive Simon Clegg, who gave evidence via a video-link, confirmed that the club had helped Chopra settle some of his debt issues: “I feel I have a duty of care for all the players who represent our football club, to try and support and assist them with any problems they may have so they can concentrate on what they are employed to do, which is play football.
“He certainly owed money to individuals down in Wales and others in the north of the country,” he added.
“They were monies owed to individuals, the best of my knowledge is they were not institutions, they were individuals, not the sort of people I would be going to if I wanted to borrow money.
“I was aware Michael was concerned about repaying the money on time. He needed to pay the money back or he would find himself in trouble.”
Clegg said the figure involved, which we understand to be a loan, was “somewhere in the region of a quarter-of-a-million pounds” with a “significant percentage” relating to Chopra’s gambling problems. A debt collector was previously reported to have approached the former Newcastle and Sunderland striker at Town’s Playford Road training ground.
The Blues chief executive said one of the accused played a role in helping to pay some of Chopra's North-East debts with his drug charges unknown to the club: “I was led to believe there was someone by the name of John Somerville who was known to Michael’s father, who could help in such matters.
“I believe John Somerville was party to a conversation on the phone when Michael was in my office and his father and John Somerville were at the other end of the phone.
“John Somerville’s role was he was going to assist Michael’s father in the closure of some of the debts in the North of England, in the region of £125,000. John Somerville had a relationship with some of the people Michael owed money to.”
Despite the cash paid by Town, Chopra is understood to have further debts with his problems believed to have put a strain on his relationship with his father.
Four men deny charges relating to the running of a drugs factory at a flat on Wearside with the prosecution alleging that the £50,000 found in a Jaguar relates to drug deals, while the defence argue it was a payment from Chopra. The case continues with Clegg not expected to give further evidence.
A club spokesman told TWTD that Town will not be commenting on the matter.
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