TWO men were charged with conspiracy to defraud and remanded in custody last night in connection with a high-level investigation into alleged match-fixing in English football.
Singaporean Chann Sankaran, 33, and Krishna Sanjey Ganeshan, 43, who has dual British and Singaporean nationality, are due to appear before magistrates in Cannock, Staffordshire, today.
Five more men were released on bail pending further enquiries as the National Crime Agency (NCA) – dubbed Britain’s answer to the FBI – continues to probe an international betting syndicate.
It follows an undercover investigation by the Daily Telegraph.
The newspaper reported yesterday that one man under investigation claimed to have influenced the result of World Cup qualifying matches. He also said he could make referees complicit for £20,000 a time.
Three footballers are thought to be among those arrested, although none are believed to be attached to professional clubs.
The matches under investigation for possible illegal activity are thought to be lower league or non-league.
Sankaran has been charged with conspiring with Ganeshan and others this month “to defraud bookmakers by influencing the course of football matches and placing bets thereon”, the NCA said in a statement. Ganeshan has been charged with conspiring with Sankaran and others to the same end.
If found guilty, they face a maximum prison sentence of 10 years.
This is the first major police probe of its type in Britain to result in charges in living memory. Match-fixing has previously been seen as a problem restricted largely to Asian and European markets.
The Football League, which operates the second, third and fourth tiers of the professional game in England, said it had been contacted about the probe.
“The threat of corruption is something the Football League and other football authorities treat with the utmost seriousness,” said chief executive Shaun Harvey. “The integrity of our matches and our competitions is the bedrock of the domestic game.”
The Football Association said it had “worked closely with the authorities in relation to these allegations”.
Eight months ago the FA told clubs in the Conference South – the game’s sixth tier – to remind players and staff of their responsibilities “under betting and integrity rules”, after some British bookmakers stopped taking bets on results involving three clubs.