UK & World News
Australia: UK Footballers Accused Of Match-Fixing
Two professional British footballers have been arrested and charged in Australia on suspicion of being involved in a multimillion-dollar match-fixing ring.
Joe Woolley, 23, and Reiss Noel, 24, were taken into custody in Melbourne by detectives investigating what is being described by local media as Australia's biggest ever scandal of its kind.
The pair had been playing for AFC Hornchurch, but according to the club's website both left in July to head to Australia to play for Southern Stars in the state of Victoria's Premier League.
Amongst the six men charged are Southern Stars' goalkeeper and coach.
Police allege the men were involved in match-rigging which netted more than AU$2m (£1.2m) of betting winnings by manipulating scores of the bottom-placed club.
Detectives say their investigation began in August and had been prompted by information received by the game's national body, the Football Federation of Australia.
One of those charged was Malaysian national Gerry Gsubramaniam, 45, who is accused of acting as a middle-man and instructing players in the Southern Stars team to either win or lose.
He faces 10 charges, including five counts of engaging in conduct that corrupts or could corrupt the outcome of a betting event, and five charges of facilitating conduct that corrupts or could corrupt the outcome of a betting event.
Acting Senior Detective Sergeant Scott Poynder told a court hearing Gsubramaniam had received payment for giving Southern Stars players information on how the games were to unfold.
"He is the contact point," Mr Poynder said. "He receives phone calls. He is given advice on how the Southern Stars players are to perform."
Mr Poynder said at least five games had been identified as being "highly suspicious".
"Video showed some of the players were doing some unusually poor play," he said.
"For that work (Gsubramaniam) received payment. Some of the bets are in the hundreds of thousands of dollars."
Woolley faces eight charges including four counts of engaging in conduct that could corrupt the outcome of a betting event, and four charges of facilitating conduct that could corrupt the outcome of a betting event.
Noel faces the same charges.
Colin McBride, chairman of AFC Hornchurch, the club for which the pair played in the Ryman Isthmian League last season, told Sky News he was "surprised" to hear of the allegations.
"They were with us for two seasons and they did very well," he said. "They were among our best performers, they were decent lads.
"Someone made me aware (of the news) and I was surprised. We just happen to be their last English club."
Both Woolley and Noel were released on bail to appear again in court on September 20.
Three other men, including the team's 36-year-old coach, were bailed to appear before the Melbourne Magistrates' Court to face the same set of charges as Noel and Woolley. More charges are expected in coming days.
Four other men arrested on Sunday morning were released pending further enquiries.
The Stars have played 21 games this season, losing 16 and drawing four.
Their only win was a 1-0 victory over top side Northcote City on August 18.
The Stars had lost their previous four matches, conceding a total of 13 goals and not scoring any.
The English Football Association said it was in contact with both the Australian authorities and Football Federation Australia and would co-operate fully with their enquiries.