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Footballer denies match-fix charges

Published 23/04/2015

Former Premier League footballer Delroy Facey denies charges of conspiracy to commit bribery
Former Premier League footballer Delroy Facey denies charges of conspiracy to commit bribery

A former Premier League striker accused of trying to bribe players over a match-fixing plot has described the men running the scheme as "class clowns".

Ex Bolton Wanderers forward Delroy Facey said he decided to "humour" the businessmen who were apparently offering him up to £15,000 for his services, adding he could not take them seriously.

Facey, who also played for West Bromwich Albion and Hull City during an 18-year career, said "alarm bells started ringing" when he was promised the large sum just to get five players across to Ireland.

The 35-year-old is on trial accused of conspiring with non-league player Moses Swaibu, 25, of Tooley Street, Bermondsey, south London, and others to commit bribery, in November 2013.

Opening the defence case at Birmingham Crown Court today, Ecky Tiwana explicitly asked his client if he ever knew of any plan to fix games, to which Facey replied "no".

One of the businessmen, Krishna Ganeshan, was jailed in summer last year after being convicted over a conspiracy to fix non-league football matches in the UK.

He was found guilty alongside Singaporean national Chann Sankaran, with both sentenced to five years behind bars.

Facey said he agreed to join Sankaran's firm Matchworld Sports Ltd, as a football consultant in 2013 after his professional career ended.

He had understood his role would be to "talk to players" for the purposes of representing them as agents.

Mr Tiwana asked: "So at that time, you had no knowledge of fixing [Football] Conference games?", with Facey replying: "No, Sir."

Facey said "alarm bells started ringing" when he read a story about Australian players connected to the businessmen being arrested on match-fixing allegations, however he did not break off contact.

The same contacts then spoke to Facey about him sourcing five players, where he was told "we will pay these dummies £1,000 each" if they could go and play matches in the Republic of Ireland.

Mr Tiwana said to his client: "The jury will want to know what that conversation was about."

Facey said he initially thought it was simply about getting them to play football, but added: "When he said 'these guys look like dummies', I thought 'hang on, pay them for what?'"

Mention was also made of a £15,000 payment to Facey to source those players, but the former striker said he regarded the whole conversation as something of a joke and never took any money.

Facey, of Woodhouse Hill, Huddersfield, said 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.

By October 2013, Ganeshan and another of the contacts appeared to have fallen out, and were telling Facey different stories.

"I just thought, 'who are these guys? They're like class clowns'."

Earlier, Facey admitted he was "not good" with money and had to declare bankruptcy in 2008 after sub-letting his house in a business deal that went wrong.

He was again stung in 2013, when he sub-let a car from a friend but fell into arrears leading to the car being taken back by the finance company.

Opening the Crown's case against both Facey and Swaibu at the start of a three-week trial, prosecutor Nick Mather told jurors the trial was about making money with bets placed on football matches being the means to the end.

He explained that Sankaran and Ganeshan were at the centre of a match-fixing conspiracy having travelled to the UK for that purpose, and that it was alleged Swaibu was one of the players they had tried to corrupt.

The Crown alleges that the plot - which aimed to profit from rigged bets - targeted the lower leagues because of the high level of scrutiny surrounding the Premier League.

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