Six charged over Vic match-fixing scam
Six men have been charged in relation to Australia's largest match-fixing scandal, including the coach, a goalkeeper and a Malaysian national who's been remanded in custody for allegedly helping run the scam.
The charges relate to an alleged match-fixing ring estimated to have reaped more than $2 million of betting winnings, mainly overseas, from manipulating scores of the bottom-placed Southern Stars in the Victorian Premier League.
It follows a Victoria Police investigation that began last month on information from Swiss-based sports and betting data intelligence agency Sportradar, which was passed on by Football Federation Australia.
Gerry Gsubramaniam, 45, of Clayton South, is accused of acting as a contact point for players in the Southern Stars team.
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.
Gsubramaniam, a Malaysian citizen, appeared before an out of sessions hearing late on Sunday night where he requested bail.
Detective acting senior sergeant Scott Poynder told the hearing Gsubramaniam had received payment for giving Southern Stars players information on how games were to unfold.
"He is the contact point," Poynder said.
"He receives phone calls.
"He is given advice on how the Southern Stars players are to perform."
Poynder told the hearing at least five games had been identified by Sportradar as being "highly suspicious".
He opposed bail and Gsubramaniam was remanded to appear before the Melbourne Magistrates court on Monday.
"Video showed some of the players were doing some unusually poor play," Poynder said.
"For that work (Gsubramaniam) received payment.
"Some of the bets are in the hundreds of thousands of dollars."
Goalkeeper Joe Wooley, 23, a UK citizen currently residing in Preston, 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.
Reiss Noel, 24, also a player for the Southern Stars currently residing in Preston, faces the same charges.
Both were released on bail.
A further three men, including the team's 36-year-old coach from Wantirna South, were bailed to appear before the Melbourne Magistrates court to face the same set of charges as Noel and Wooley.
More charges are expected to be laid in coming days.
Four other men arrested on Sunday morning were released pending further inquiries.
Earlier on Sunday, Southern Stars FC president Ercan Cicek said many of the players arrested were from the UK and were playing in Australia in their off-season.
Cicek said five players from England joined the southeast Melbourne-based Stars at the start of the season, at the instigation of a man who also offered to organise sponsorship.
He said the man, whose full name he was unable to provide to AAP, first contacted him in 2012 about providing players to the club without paying.
"Our committee members are thinking, `Oh beautiful, five players for free, we're not going to pay anything, it's a big big bonus'," he said.
Cicek said the Stars' coach also gave his services for free this season, telling the club he just wanted a chance at Premier League level.
But Cicek added the prospect of match-fixing never occurred to Stars officials.
"We (were) never thinking about (the) betting side or the other side, (that) he's going to take money somewhere," Cicek said.
"We don't know. We were thinking about only our club, what's the advantage for our club?"
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.
FFA chief executive David Gallop welcomed the work of the police and Sportradar.
"This highlights the fact that lower league games, which aren't under the scrutiny of things like TV broadcasts, are potentially more susceptible to this kind of activity," Gallop said.
"What we can say is the detection measures that we've had in place have worked, and that is a sign we're working in the right direction."