LONDON: Two businessmen and a footballer convicted of plotting to fix the results of English football matches have been jailed.

Chann Sankaran and Krishna Ganeshan were convicted of conspiracy to commit bribery and sentenced to five years.

Former Whitehawk FC defender Michael Boateng was sentenced to 16 months.

Judge Melbourne Inman QC said those who tried to destroy the integrity of professional football “must expect significant prison sentences”

He told Sankaran, 33, from Singapore, that he would be liable for deportation after his sentence, but it would be a matter for the Home Secretary.

Judge Inman also told Sankaran and Ganeshan, 44, a British national originally from Sri Lanka, who lived in Hastings, East Sussex, that he was satisfied they were the “controlling minds” at the head of the conspiracy.

‘Modest wages’

He said the pair had come to the UK in November last year solely to visit clubs to find players they could corrupt, and had targeted lower division clubs because it was cheaper to bribe players on “modest wages”.

The judge also said it was sad to see the football player in the dock.

Boateng, 22, of Davidson Road, Croydon, south London, who was described as a valued church and charity group youth worker, had allowed himself to be quickly drawn in to the scheme, he said..

Inman said Boateng had tried to recruit one of his oldest friends, Mr Adelakun, who was cleared of any involvement, and said he had been perfectly willing to bring an innocent young man into the scheme.

The judge told him: “It is, sadly, pure greed that allowed you to become involved in what Sankaran and Ganeshan were doing.”

There was evidence that both businessmen had not only tried to cash in themselves, but also by selling information to others placing bets on the games, the judge added.

‘Significant money’

He said the pair expected to make significant money, even though there was no evidence that the outcome of a match was ever thrown.

The judge said Sankaran pretended he was an agent for a club in Finland and Ganeshan set up a company in London that never traded and never paid its rent – to clothe what the men were doing with “apparent respectability”.

The case showed that all professional clubs, including non-league sides, needed to be extremely vigilant to ensure the “poison” of matchfixing corruption did not affect them, the judge added.

A National Crime Agency (NCA) investigation began when The Daily Telegraph presented the agency with evidence from an undercover investigation.

An NCA spokesman said over a seven-day period in November 2013, its surveillance of the men provided enough evidence to secure their convictions, despite the failure of their plot to fix a match between AFC Wimbledon and Dagenham Redbridge.

National Crime Agency branch commander Richard Warner said the businessmen had tried to build “a network of corrupt players in the UK”.

He said: “This is not sport as a football-loving nation recognises it. It is corruption and bribery linked to serious organised crime.”

He said the NCA was continuing to work with the Gambling Commission and the Football Association and its investigation continued.

Hakeem Adelakun, who also played for the Brighton club Whitehawk FC, was cleared following the trial at Birmingham Crown Court.

The jury was discharged from reaching a verdict on footballer Moses Swaibu.

Mr Swaibu, 25, of Tooley Street, Bermondsey, south London, had denied a single count of conspiracy to offer, promise or give a financial advantage.