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Jail term for match-fixer Facey

Published 29/04/2015

Delroy Facey has been convicted of conspiring to bribe players in a match-fixing plot
Delroy Facey has been convicted of conspiring to bribe players in a match-fixing plot

A former Premier League striker has been jailed for two-and-a-half years after becoming the highest-profile player to be convicted of match-fixing allegations.

Delroy 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.

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".

"You have been a role model, but you have abused that position," she added.

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.

Facey's co-accused, former non-league player Moses Swaibu, of Tooley Street, Bermondsey, south London, was convicted of the same charge.

Judge Stacey, sentencing both men, said: "It's about the fans of the teams involved, the families who follow the fortunes of their teams with passion, loyalty and devotion.

"They assume that all the players in those teams will be sharing in that and playing their hardest and best.

"It's also about the employees and staff, groundsmen, coaches, the cleaners, even the owners and share-holders, the match stewards - many of whom will have been volunteers.

"You have betrayed all that trust, all that confidence, and it's like a cancer at the heart of football."

She added: "Your behaviour strikes at the very heart of football and the concept of gamesmanship.

"It crossed my mind that so many of the different pieces of terminology in everyday speech we use, in fairness and justice, are used in football - things like 'it's a fair game', or 'a level playing field'.

"Fairness is at the heart of football, and the opportunity of everyone to do their best, and your behaviour has struck right at the heart of that."

She said the pair were "both willing participants" but that Facey had been "far more the initiator and prime-mover, expending far more of your time on this enterprise - even when you were at work".

Judge Stacey added: "Both of you, to slightly different extents, have lived the dream of professional football, as is every small boy's dreams.

"You, Delroy Facey, played not only in the Premiership but also internationally for Grenada and had the opportunity to work with managers such as Sam Allardyce and Sven Goran-Eriksson, and so many people would have given their eye teeth to play football at that professional standard that you had."

Turning to the reasons why both men had committed their crimes, she concluded: "In both cases, your motivation was financial greed."

Ecky Tiwana, in mitigation for Facey, said: "It has not only been a professional tragedy, but a personal one.

"This was a man who went to the heights of Premier League football."

He added: "This serious conviction is going to stay with him for the rest of his life.

"The stigma of being the most high-profile footballer being convicted of this type of offence - that will have a lasting effect on him, for the rest of his life.

"This man has fallen from great heights and it's very sad indeed we sit here - that having had great success in football, he is having to go to prison today."

Swaibu, 25, was jailed for 16 months for his part in the conspiracy.

Both men will serve half their sentences in jail and the remainder out on licence, said Judge Stacey.

Swaibu's barrister, Richard Keogh, said in mitigation that any hope of playing professional football again had now been ended by his conviction.

"His career, his dreams have been ruined," he added.

As Facey prepared to leave with the dock officers, he made a chin-up gesture to his family including his weeping mother, who sat in the public gallery.

Afterwards, there were emotional scenes, with Facey's mother sobbed loudly in the court as her son was led down from the dock to begin his sentence behind bars.

Earlier, Facey, while outside court on temporary bail and immediately before his sentencing hearing, had declined to make any comment to waiting reporters.

This is the second trial linked to the same conspiracy, following the conviction after trial in June last year of businessmen Chann Sankaran and Krishna Ganeshan, and former non-league player Michael Boateng.

Sankaran and Ganeshan were described as the central figures of the conspiracy to swing the results of lower league matches, and were sentenced to five years in prison.

Boateng, for his part described by prosecutors as a willing recruit, was handed a 16-month sentence.

The National Crime Agency (NCA) said the men's aim had been to fix the results of matches, passing the information to an overseas network of bookmakers who were betting on the loaded outcomes of the games to make money.

However, during both trials it emerged the conspirators had failed to fix any games despite their efforts.

The NCA launched its own investigation in November 2013 when it was presented with evidence by the Daily Telegraph.

Adrian Hansford, NCA lead officer, said: "The NCA is in no doubt that this was the beginning of a concerted attempt to build a network of corrupt players in the UK.

"That network included Facey, who acted as a conduit for potential targets, and Swaibu, who was recruited to expand the network further.

"They deliberately targeted lower leagues believing that because players earn less they could be more susceptible to taking a bribe."

He added: "This is corruption and bribery linked to serious organised crime, and the NCA is determined to stop criminals benefiting from it."

Andy Young, of the Crown Prosecution Service's organised crime division, said in a statement: "Delroy Facey acted as the middleman in this conspiracy, sourcing players who would be willing to fix matches.

"When he played professional football, he earned good money, being paid over £65,000 in 2010/11. But by the time of his arrest, he was no longer playing professionally and was earning considerably less.

"The jury heard how recordings made by an undercover officer from the National Crime Agency captured Michael Boateng conspiring to give away a penalty to Moses Swaibu, a conversation facilitated by Facey on behalf of the professional fixer Krishna Ganeshan.

"Swaibu also advises Facey on how to approach fixing, including bribing referees, and on one occasion suggests that a match could be lost by two or three goals.

"These and other recordings provided vital evidence which showed the men had a settled intent to make an agreement about engineering the results of matches, in return for money, a reality."

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