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Besiktas club coach among eight freed in match-fixing investigation in Turkey

A Turkish court freed eight suspects in a major match-fixing case yesterday, including the coach and an executive of leading club Besiktas, giving a boost to football club shares which have been hit hard by the investigation.

Besiktas coach Tayfur Havutcu, executive Serdal Adali and the other six were released from custody pending trial. Twenty-three suspects remain in custody.

Shares in Besiktas surged 10.7 per cent on the news, while Fenerbahce rose 5.6 per cent. Shares in Galatasaray, who are not named in the match-fixing indictment, jumped 8.4 per cent.

The Turkish parliament passed a law at the weekend reducing prison sentences for match-rigging from a maximum 12 years to three years, defying a call from President Abdullah Gul for MPs to revise a law which he vetoed earlier this month.

Gul is now obliged to approve the legislation but said the new law did not represent a sufficient deterrent and believed it was passed to benefit certain individuals.

A total of 93 football officials and players, including the chairman of champions Fenerbahce, Aziz Yildirim, are set to go on trial in the investigation, according to the indictment which the court accepted last week.

The Turkish Football Federation (TFF) has said it will act quickly in taking measures against individuals named in the case but it will not act against clubs until the season is over. It barred Fenerbahce from this season's Champions League when the allegations first surfaced.

Among the defendants is a TFF deputy chairman, Goksel Gumusdag. European football's ruling body, Uefa, has yet to comment on the latest developments in the case. The first hearing is set for 14 February.

Olgun Peker, an ex-president of club Giresunspor, and Yildirim are accused of being gang leaders among a raft of charges ranging from match-fixing to the payment of bribes.

The indictment names eight clubs, including Fenerbahce, Besiktas and Trabzonspor, who are currently in the Europa League after replacing Fenerbahce in this season's Champions League. Fourteen players are among the defendants.

The investigation alleged manipulation in 19 matches, including Fenerbahce's 4-3 win over Sivasspor which won the league championship on the final day of last season.