Prosecutors have dropped the case against 13 footballers investigated over alleged match-fixing, including a former Pompey star.
Sam Sodje was one of those caught in a sting by the defunct News of the World’s ‘Fake Sheikh’ Mazher Mahmood.
The Crown Prosecution Service said there was ‘insufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction’ in the case in light of the collapse of Tulisa Contostavlos’s trial.
The former X Factor judge was cleared of brokering a cocaine deal in July last year following a newspaper sting led by Mr Mahmood, after Judge Alistair McCreath said there were ‘strong grounds’ to believe The Sun On Sunday reporter lied in the witness box.
A CPS spokeswoman said: ‘It was decided that there was insufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction.’
The footballers were arrested as part of an investigation into alleged bribery and money laundering, the NCA said.
In April, seven players from Football League clubs based in the north west of England were arrested in connection with alleged spot-fixing and another six were rearrested over the claims.
The original six suspects were arrested as part of the inquiry in December 2013, prompted by information passed on by the Sun on Sunday.
The tabloid reported that an undercover investigator met Sodje, who allegedly said he could arrange for footballers in the Championship to get themselves a yellow card in return for cash.
The 35-year-old also claimed he could rig Premier League games.
and even said he was preparing to fix matches at next year’s World Cup in Brazil, the newspaper reported.