2 businessmen found guilty over match-fixing in England

LONDON - Two businessmen were found guilty of conspiracy to commit bribery on Tuesday in relation to England's biggest football match-fixing scandal for some 50 years.

Chann Sankaran, 33, a Singapore national, and Krishna Sanjey Ganeshan, 44, who has dual UK and Singapore nationality, were convicted at Birmingham Crown Court, a court spokesman said.

The jury cleared footballer Hakeem Adelakun, 23, who used to play for Whitehawk FC in Brighton, of the same charge and is still considering verdicts on fellow former Whitehawk players, Moses Swaibu and Michael Boateng.

Swaibu and Boateng are charged with conspiring to offer, promise or give a financial advantage to other persons. The three players have denied all charges.

The court spokesman said sentencing for Sankaran and Ganeshan would not be decided until the jury reached verdicts on all five men.

The men were among seven people arrested last November on suspicion of being connected to an illegal betting syndicate based in Singapore that was involved in match-fixing in English lower league football.

Sankaran and Ganeshan were charged in November and the three footballers faced charges in December.

The same month, the National Crime Agency launched a second probe into alleged corruption in English football after a Sunday newspaper claimed a player told an undercover reporter that he could guarantee certain events in a match.

The investigations are highly embarrassing for English football, which prides itself as the largely unsullied birthplace of the game.

The last major match-fixing scandal in England occurred in the mid-1960s when 10 players were found guilty.

Earlier last year, an inquiry by European police forces, Europol and national prosecutors uncovered a global betting scam run from Singapore.

About 680 suspicious matches, including the European Champions League and qualifying games for the World Cup and European Championships, were identified in the investigation.