LONDON/OSLO: Jail terms have been handed out by courts in England and Norway in the latest – unrelated – round of professional football matchfixing cases.
In Birmingham a jury took only three hours to convict a former Premier League player Delroy Facey of trying to corrupt a Hyde FC player into match fixing for ‘easy money’
Facey, 35, who played for Bolton Wanderers, West Bromwich Albion and Hull City, was found guilty at Birmingham Crown Court earlier of conspiracy to bribe non-league players.
Former non-league player Moses Swaibu, of Tooley Street, Bermondsey, south London, was also convicted of the same charge.
He had denied any wrong-doing during a three-week trial, claiming he thought two corrupt businessmen offering him up to £15,000 for his part in the plot were “class clowns” whom he decided to “humour”.
Judge Mary Stacey said Facey’s offences struck “at the very heart of football”.
She added: “You have been a role model, but you have abused that position.”
The trial heard that Facey urged a footballer at a struggling non-league club to make some “easy money” by fixing the result of a match.
He also told a contact that some Football Conference teams would “do” a game in return for payment.
In one text conversation, conducted on messaging service WhatsApp in late 2013, Facey tried to corrupt Hyde FC player Scott Spencer by offering him £2,000.
The court heard that Facey, of Woodhouse Hill, Huddersfield, made contact with Spencer shortly after discussing Hyde’s poor run of form with a convicted match-fixer.
Spencer, who the court heard was not involved in any form of match-fixing, was messaged by Facey, who told him: “You lot (Hyde) get rinsed out, week in, week out.
“You lot should make some money out of this lad, easy money. Check this out. Four goals in a game – two in either half – and you guys can get 2k each, win lose or draw. You guys can’t win for s**t so you may as well make some peas.”
During the WhatsApp conversation, which was read to jurors by prosecutor Nick Mather, Facey added that a friend who was betting would provide the cash.
Mr Mather told the jury Facey told a convicted match-fixer in another message: “I have got (Football) Conference teams that will ‘do’ a game but how much?”
Transcripts of messages which passed between Facey and 43-year-old Krishna Ganeshan, who was found guilty of conspiracy at an earlier trial, were also shown to the jury.
In an exchange on October 28 2013, Ganeshan used Skype to contact Facey, telling him: “Get ready, things are about to come to life. Keep your boys on stand-by. If they deliver first time, me and only you are in big business for the future.”
The Crown said the Skype discussion – and a message sent by Facey claiming six players in the Football Conference were “amenable” to match-fixing – could not have been part of an attempt to rip off a gambling syndicate.
Ganeshan was found guilty alongside Singaporean national Chann Sankaran, with both sentenced to five years behind bars.
Giving evidence in his defence, Facey claimed he agreed to join Sankaran’s firm Matchworld Sports Ltd as a football consultant in 2013 after his football career ended.
He said he understood his role would be to “talk to players” for the purposes of representing them as agents and said “alarm bells started ringing” when he read a story about Australian players connected to the businessmen being arrested on match-fixing allegations.
He did not break off contact.
He told the court that by late 2013, shortly before he was arrested over the allegation, he was “just humouring” the businessmen, and even thought they were “trying to set me up”.
“I knew something was not right there at all,” he told the jury.
Earlier, he admitted he was “not good” with money and had to declare bankruptcy in 2008
In Noeway three third division players were among five men jailed after they were found guilty of fraud and corruption in the country’s first match-fixing trial.
The trio — Drin Shala and Formose Pape Mendy of Follo and Alban Shipshani of Asker — were charged with accepting money to fix results. Two other players were acquitted by Oslo’s District Court.
After a three-week trial in which the court heard secret recordings of telephone conversations and details of illicit meetings in Sweden where offers were made to fix results, Shala and Shipsani were handed prison sentences of eight months each, with Mendy receiving six months.
All three players have said they will appeal the verdicts.
“This judgement sends out an important signal that you do not fix matches in Norway unpunished,” Norwegian FA (NFF) general secretary Kjetil Siem said in a statement.
“We are pleased that the police have taken the matter very seriously, while I commend the clubs, with Follo FK leading the way, for the way they have handled this difficult case.”
The charges related to games played by the Asker and Follo clubs in the third tier of Norwegian football in 2012.
In one of the games that came under scrutiny, Follo had led 3-0 against Ostsiden only to lose 4-3. That shock result caused Follo to report their suspicions of match-fixing to the Norwegian FA, and a police investigation was launched.
In another game Asker were hammered 7-1 by Frigg, and the Norwegian FA also took the unprecedented step of postponing a game between Ullensaker/Kisa and HamKam amid concerns that the match had been fixed. (