Three men have been convicted of a plot to fix lower league football matches as part of a lucrative Far Eastern betting scam.
Two businessmen and a Conference South footballer were found guilty by a jury of conspiracy to commit bribery following an undercover sting operation.
Chann Sankaran, 33, and Krishna Ganeshan, 44, were central figures in the bribery plot and had travelled from Singapore to rope in semi-professional players to ensure the right score to secure the greatest profit. Michael Boateng, 22, a former defender for Brighton-based Whitehawk FC, was also found guilty.
The fixers targeted the soft underbelly of British football where the cost of recruiting players and scrutiny was low, while major gains could still be made on Asian betting markets.
The trial was told that a former Fifa investigator had gone undercover after identifying Sankaran as a potential match-fixer and then brought in a national newspaper when he needed the €60,000 cash to pay for a fixed game. The case was then passed over to the National Crime Agency.
One of its investigators met with Sankaran and Ganeshan, of Hastings, East Sussex, in a Manchester hotel. In a recording of one of Ganeshan's telephone recordings from a bugged room he said he was looking to make "between £75,000 to £100,000'' on a cup tie involving non-league clubs on 30 November last year.
Jurors cleared Hakeem Adelakun, 23, who also played for Whitehawk, of involvement in the conspiracy. They failed to reach a verdict on a third footballer, Moses Swaibu, who will face a retrial.
Mr Adelakun’s legal team said that he had been duped about the nature of a meeting with Sankaran. “When it became clear that match fixing was their object Hakeem sought to withdraw but pressure was exerted for him to remain to meet 'Mr Big',” said barrister Ben Douglas-Jones.