ISTANBUL: Fenerbahce, allowed back into European competition last week by UEFA, may find themselves expelled again at high speed after president Aziz Yildirim was sentenced to prison for corruption and matchfixing.

However Yildirim and three other accused in the 11-month saga have been released on bail pending appeals after the sentences were delivered by Mehmet Ekinci, chief judge of a ‘specially authorized’ 16th İstanbul High Criminal Court.

Yıldırım was handed a jail term of six years, three months for “creating and managing a criminal organization” and for fixing a number of matches. The decision has been forwarded to the Supreme Court of Appeals for approval. Yıldırım could then be recalled to prison in which he has been confined since his arrest in July last year.

He has also been fined Turkish Lira 1,312,000 for rigging several matches.

The match-fixing investigation concerned games in the top two divisions in the 2010-11 season which ended with Fenerbahçe as champions. In July police raided homes and football club premises, detaining 60 people suspected of matchfixing.

Some 31 people – including several senior officials from various Turkish clubs, including Fenerbahçe and Beşiktaş, were formally charged with fraud and match fixing.  Most of these suspects have been released, including Beşiktaş coach Tayfur Havutçu.

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