Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Death Threats And Arrests: A Non-League Footballer's Tale From The Dark Knight

LEON KNIGHT has lifted the lid on his nightmare at Conference side Rushden and Diamonds, accusing them of making death threats in the on-going row over his registration.

The 28-year-old from Hackney sent out a stream of Twitters to his 3,500 followers on Monday, informing them: “I haven’t been paid since 2008. I have kept quiet for two years but now I am going to tell all.

“They gave me money, then said if I don’t give them back the 30k I’ll end up in a box.

“You say I’m throwing away my career on Twitter – but you can’t get punished for telling the truth. I’m not telling no lies here.”

Knight also accuses the club of taking back the two Mercedes they had given him – and reporting the vehicles stolen, which resulted in the arrests of his father and a friend.

The former Chelsea trainee, who has also played for Brighton, Swansea, MK Dons, Wycombe Wanderers, QPR and Sheffield Wednesday, said: “They gave me two SLK Mercs.

“When they knew we wasn’t good enough to go up, they ask for the cars back then reported them stolen. and got my old man and my mate knicked.

“They still have my 3k Cartier watch in the car and my 350 quid Marc Jacob glasses. I might call the police on them!

“For two years, I held my mouth but no more, I’m telling all.”

Knight insists he has the bank statements to back up his claims against the club, who spent three years in the Football League before returning to the Blue Square Conference, where they are currently 16th in the table.

He said: “I can prove all I have said. I have bank statements, arrest forms, the full Monty.

“If Rushden give me my registration back, I’ll stop, if not I’ll go to the end and beyond. I have kids to feed, I had to cancel my contract at Darlington cos of the stunt they pulled - so now I'm fighting back which I think is only right.”

Controversy has dogged Knight’s career. During a brief spell at Hamilton Academicals in Scotland last season, he was sent off for his role in a tunnel brawl after a win over Hearts, despite being an unused sub.

So far, in 10 years as a professional, Knight has played nearly 300 games for 14 different clubs, including three for Thrasivoulos Filis in Greece last year whilst in dispute with Rushden.

He returned to England and was all set to sign for Darlington at the start of this season but his transfer was blocked by Rushden, who had held onto his registration after making 12 appearances for them in 2008. Rushden demanded £30,000 to release him.

Knight has produced an on-line petition http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/leonknight/ demanding the right to be released by Rushden. Knight claims he was sacked by the club after signing a two-year contract. He claims the club have since extended his contract to keep his registration – but are not paying him.

Knight was transfer-listed by the club on 29 October, 2008 along with Lee Tomlin, Curtis Woodhouse, Andy Burgess, Phil Gulliver, Sagi Burton, Lee Phillips and Dean McDonald.

He recalls: “You will not be getting paid this month - we got told this in the middle of the training ground car park.

“And they said, if anyone has anything to say come see me in my office. Lee Phillips then pipes up and the chairman walks towards Phillips and shoves him so Phillips pushed him back.

“Hahahahahaha so funny, just one of the many things I’ll be exposing.”

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