Football match-fixing trio sent to prison

Krishna Ganeshan, Chann Sankaran and Michael Boateng were convicted of conspiracy to commit bribery
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A footballer and two businessmen who were convicted of involvement in a match-fixing plot have been sentenced to time in prison.

Former Whitehawk FC defender Michael Boateng, 22, was jailed on Friday alongside Chann Sankaran, 33, and Krishna Ganeshan, 44, for plotting to fix the results of lower league matches.

The trio were found guilty of conspiracy to commit bribery after a four-week trial.

Hakeem Adelakun, who also played for the Brighton club, was cleared by Birmingham Crown Court.

Sankaran, who comes from Singapore, and Ganeshan, who is originally from Sri Lanka, were described in court as the "central figures" and were sentenced to five years in prison.

The court heard that they had tried to influence the outcome of matches in League Two and the Conference South.

Boateng, of Croydon, a former defender with the Conference South club, was sentenced to 16 months for his role in the plot.

Judge Melbourne Inman QC, who sentenced the men, said that professional football and sport played "an important part in national life and individuals' lives" in Britain.

"Those who make determined attempts to destroy its integrity for personal gain must expect significant prison sentences so when such acts are discovered a clear signal is sent to others," he said.

The judge also warned Sankaran he would be "liable to deportation" to his home country once he had served his sentence.

"The two of you came to this country in November last year, for the sole reason of visiting clubs to find players you could corrupt to fix matches," the judge said, addressing Sankaran and Ganeshan; who, he added, had set upon "a plan to corrupt professional footballers".

The judge said it was "sad to see" Boateng - who had previously been a valued church and charity group youth worker in London - in the dock.

"It is, sadly, pure greed that allowed you to become involved in what Sankaran and Ganeshan were doing," he said.

The men were first investigated by the National Crime Agency (NCA) when the Daily Telegraph presented the agency with evidence from an undercover investigation.

An NCA spokesman said surveillance of the men over a seven-day period in November 2013 provided enough evidence to secure their convictions, even though they had failed to fix a match between AFC Wimbledon and Dagenham Redbridge.

NCA branch commander Richard Warner described the plot as "corruption and bribery linked to serious organised crime", and said it was "not sport as a football-loving nation recognises it".

He added: "The NCA is determined to stop criminals benefiting from it."