A FORMER top detective from Huddersfield today began a huge inquiry into the betting scandal rocking rugby league.
Gary Haigh is to probe the claims that St Helens stars Sean Long and Martin Gleeson, a former Huddersfield Giant, backed their club to lose.
And it is rumoured that other clubs, players and betting organisations could be implicated in the investigation, which could involve huge sums of money - possibly millions of pounds.
Mr Haigh, who retired in 1998 after a distinguished police career, will carry out detailed investigations.
He was heading to St Helens today to start talks with club officials and players.
Great Britain players Long and Gleeson each collected more than £1,000 after they bet against St Helens.
The side - due to meet Huddersfield Giants in next Sunday's Powergen Challenge Cup semi-final -were without 11 regular players when they met Bradford Bulls at Odsal this month.
Bradford went on to win 54-8 and the players are reported to have collected winnings of about £1,000 each.
Mr Haigh, who worked for the Giants for a spell, is now the Rugby League's independent disciplinary investigator.
He severed all club links to take up the post and is working under the direction of the Rugby League's disciplinary commissioner, Leeds solicitor Norman Sarsfield.
Mr Haigh said: "It is likely to be a very long and detailed investigation.
"We are looking at all aspects of the allegations made against the players and will also look at the activities of a number of online betting agencies.
"Many of those firms are believed to have closed their books on betting for the Bradford game because of irregular betting patterns," he added.
"There is enormous concern within the Rugby League. Any allegations like these are taken extremely seriously.
"The inquiry begins today and it could run for a long time. It could well be that our inquiries cover a much bigger area than originally envisaged."
John Huxley, a spokesman for the Rugby League, said a full and thorough investigation "was a matter of urgency".
He added: "The management of St Helens have confirmed they will co- operate fully with the investigation. The rules of the league specifically forbid betting and associated activity."
Both Long and Gleeson have been told they are under official investigation. But both are free to play against the Giants in Sunday's semi-final at Warrington.
GARY HAIGH, 56, of Quarmby, was a policeman for more than 30 years.
He rose to become one of the West Yorkshire force's top detectives, heading up many major inquiries.
He was the man who led the investigation into the murder of Newsome teacher Eve Howells by her husband and two teenage sons.
And he also successfully investigated 46 other homicides.
He is also well-known in sporting circles, having played rugby, football, cricket and basketball and having worked for Huddersfield Giants and YMCA Rugby Union Club.