Byline: DAVID BROWN and PHIL NETTLETON
SOCCER star Paul Merson is losing up to pounds 70,000 a DAY in crazy bets, his worried friends have revealed.
The former England and Arsenal star's gambling addiction has returned with a vengeance.
Shocked pals have told The People that Merson, 36, is...
LOSING up to pounds 200,000 a month betting on virtually any sports event.
PLUNGING thousands every day on bizarre punts such as who will take first corner or free kick in a soccer match.
FACING financial ruin as he racks up debts that will total over pounds 2 million in one year if he continues like this.
TESTING the devotion of his second wife Louise who has cancelled their satellite TV subscription in a futile bid to stop him gambling.
A pal said: "We are really worried for Paul. His gambling seems to be getting completely out of control again.
"When he gets like this, anything can happen. He is not just having the odd bet on football results.
"He is also throwing his money away on how many goals are going to be scored in a particular game.
"He's like a robot. This is the worst it has been in ages. He's heading for massive debts if continues at the rate he has."
Merson, player-manager with newly-relegated Second Division Walsall, fell off the wagon when the soccer season ended. Although he has conquered a 20-year addiction to booze and drugs, pals say boredom has driven him back into the arms of the bookies.
He is staking vast sums on baseball, basketball, cricket, Euro 2004, snooker, rugby, golf and Wimbledon.
Friends say "Merse", who earns about pounds 10,000 a month, lost up to TWENTY times that in June.
He is understood to have lost tens of thousands on Euro 2004 and Wimbledon alone.
The star has an account with leading bookies Stan James and conducts most of his business on the phone.
Wife Louise, 33, cancelled the satellite TV at their pounds 750,000 home in Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, to stop him getting ideas for his next sports punt.
But the desperate move has had no effect. One friend said: "He's been betting on all sorts of mad stuff. There's absolutely no rhyme nor reason and his thought process has gone out of the window.
"There is no way he has enough knowledge about so many sports to be betting the way he has been doing.
"He thinks he knows what he's doing and they are good wagers but he's terrible and can't stop.
"One day last month he won pounds 40,000 on baseball and then threw more than double that away the next day."
Friends say he is now about to cash in some investments in a bid to stay afloat.
He is currently having a house built in posh Lichfield, Staffs, but has now postponed the work.
The friend added: "There is only a finite amount of money and he's not pulling in anything like the amount of money he was when he was a Premiership player. It's got to end sometime and that could be soon. He just can't carry on the way he has been.
"Even if he wins something, he'll fritter it away again on another hopeless punt."
Last season the likeable but deeply flawed footballer admitted feeling suicidal - and his latest gambling frenzy has prompted fears about his state of mind.
Friends were hopeful he was beating his addiction after he jetted to a clinic in Arizona, America, for four weeks in February - in the middle of the football season.
He flew to the Sierra Tucson Clinic - where troubled soccer star Paul Gascoigne has also been a patient - for a one-month programme of intensive treatment.
With brutal honesty, he credited the trip with saving his life, telling The People: "It's been the worst time, the lowest, absolutely rock-bottom. It was worse than when I first admitted my addictions, worse than at any other time in my life. …