MELBOURNE: Malaysian national and two English players pleaded guilty to fixing soccer matches in Australia’s second tier Victorian Premier League on Friday.

Four players and a coach of Southern Stars, already suspended from all soccer activities by the Football Federation of Australia, were also facing criminal charges related to match-fixing.

The multi-million dollar racket had links with betting syndicates in Malaysia and Hungary and was smashed by the Australian police in September.

Defender Reiss Noel and goalkeeper Joe Woolley, both Britons, were convicted and fined on Friday for throwing games on the instruction of the syndicate.

Noel was slapped with a fine of A$2,000 while Woolley got a penalty of A$1,200 for his role in the crime.

The players avoided a stricter punishment after agreeing to help the prosecutors with evidence in the investigation, a Melbourne court said.

Malaysian Segaran Gsubramaniam, 45, described by police as the linchpin of the Australian operation and a link between the team and off-shore betting syndicates, also pleaded guilty and will be sentenced next year.

The coach and the other two Southern Stars players will return to the court for a hearing later this month.