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Paul Merson reveals he ‘ruined his family’s £160k deposit on table tennis betting during lockdown’
- Paul Merson has spoken openly in the past about how he lost around £7million while battling a gambling addiction for 35 years
- He believed he had turned a corner but suffered a relapse during the first Covid-19 lockdown
- The 54-year-old was unable to fulfill his role as a pundit on Sky Sports due to no football being played
- Merson says all his wages now go to his wife, who gives him ‘pocket money’
- Last year he fronted a documentary titled Paul Merson: football, gambling and me
Former England footballer Paul Merson has told how he suffered a relapse from his gambling addiction during the initial Covid-19 lockdown and lost £160,000 – money set aside to buy a house for his family.
Merson, 54, has spoken openly in the past about how he lost around £7million while struggling with a gambling problem for 35 years.
The ex-Arsenal midfielder placed his first bet at the age of 16 and also struggled with alcohol and drug addictions during and after his playing career.
However, he believed he had turned a corner and last year Merson fronted a BBC documentary titled ‘ Paul Merson: football, gambling and mewho explored the massive impact addiction had had on his life.
However, Merson has now admitted that he returned to the bookmakers during the pandemic because he was so concerned about a lack of work.
With no football games being played, Merson was unable to fulfill his role as a pundit on Sky Sports.
“I was on leave from Sky Sports and at the beginning I enjoyed the lockdown,” he said The sun. ‘I was in the garden with my youngest children and the sun was shining. But then I started getting addicted to bulletins when Boris Johnson and the man in the red tie came out.
Paul Merson has told how he suffered a relapse from his gambling addiction during the lockdown
He was unable to fulfill his role as a pundit on Sky Sports because there was no football being played
“My fear set in and I thought, ‘They won’t have a football Saturday’ and thought, ‘I won’t be able to earn anything’. The mothers of my older children have houses and I want to give my younger children a future.
‘Kate’ [Merson’s wife] and I had saved £160,000 and I ruined it in a few bets. It was all online, but it wasn’t a bookmaker, it was a private bookmaker.
‘My last bet was eight grand on a table tennis player. I had no specific knowledge of table tennis but everything was locked at the time so there wasn’t much to bet on.
“I remember sitting in my front room having suicidal thoughts and my kids playing and thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, I just did everything in’.”
During his football career, Merson won two league titles at Arsenal and earned 21 caps in England
Merson, a father of eight, saw his first two marriages shattered by his addictions and he believes his current wife Kate would leave him if he relapses.
As a result, he revealed that all his wages now go to Kate and that he gets “pocket money” from her. Merson also attends Gamblers Anonymous sessions and has become an ambassador for the addiction treatment app Recoverlution.
During his career as a footballer, Merson won two league titles and the FA Cup at Arsenal, earning 21 caps for England. He also played for Middlesbrough, Aston Villa, Portsmouth and Walsall.