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Merson keeps home in arrears deal

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Former Aston Villa star and Walsall manager Paul Merson has avoided losing his luxury home after doing a deal with Lloyds Bank to pay back mortgage arrears.

Paul MersonFormer Aston Villa star and Walsall manager Paul Merson has avoided losing his luxury home after doing a deal with Lloyds Bank to pay back mortgage arrears.

The media pundit, who also played 21 times for England, gave his address as Four Oaks in Sutton Coldfield. The bank had been preparing to apply for an order to repossess the flat, thought to be worth around £300,000, after falling £17,834 behind on his mortgage.

A bank representative told Birmingham County Court that Merson had agreed to pay the debt at £400 per month, plus his regular £1,969 repayment.

Merson, aged 39, who has also played for Arsenal, Middlesbough and Portsmouth, has fought alcohol, drugs and betting addictions for more than two decades.

In the 1989/90 season at Arsenal, he was banned from Highbury for two weeks amid reports of drinking and gambling debts. But he later seemed to have his problems under control and he made regular first team appearances.

In November 1994, he confessed he had a cocaine habit. He entered an addiction unit and was released six weeks later on the condition he attended outpatient therapy and support groups.

The Football Association later said cocaine was not his main problem – it was drinking and gambling.

In 2003, Merson said he had kicked the drink and drugs problems, but was still haunted by gambling. Peter Kay, of the Sporting Chance Clinic, a centre for the treatment of behavioural problems among professional sports people, said: "Paul hasn't sought our advice for a number of years but socially I still see him and speak to him from time to time.

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"He knows that we are always here if he needs us."

Merson, who has been married twice and has five children, gave the flat, which is part of an upmarket mansion development, as his address at a hearing in April last year.

A promotional website for the development boasts that it is ideal for those seeking a "quiet, luxurious retreat".

Each apartment is equipped with a state-of-the-art video entry system, a "designer kitchen" and a networked multi-media entertainment system, it says.

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