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Friday, August 20, 1999 Published at 23:11 GMT 00:11 UK


Man guilty of floodlight plot

Selhurst Park: Plunged into darkness

A businessman has been convicted of taking part in an Asian betting scam that fixed English Premiership football matches by sabotaging the floodlights.

The BBC's Stephen Cape: "This sent a clear message to would be conspirators"
Wai Yuen Liu, 38, of Kensington, west London, had denied involvement in a plot to black out a game between Charlton Athletic and Liverpool in February this year.

A Charlton security guard, Roger Firth, 49, and Malaysians Eng Hwa Lim, 35, and Chee Kew Ong, 49, earlier admitted conspiracy to cause a public nuisance and are awaiting sentence.

[ image: Roger Firth admitted conspiracy to cause a public nuisance]
Roger Firth admitted conspiracy to cause a public nuisance
Mark Dennis, prosecuting at Middlesex Guildhall Crown Court, had described Liu as part of the "professional and well thought out" plan to target the ground.

It also emerged in court that Liu was a convicted fraudster with links to the Triad underworld.

The syndicate was behind attempts to fix two other matches, the first at a West Ham and Crystal Palace game at Upton Park, and the second at Selhurst Park, where Wimbledon were playing Arsenal.

In both matches the lights failed when the scores were level.

Det Supt Andy Sellers of the Met: Failed matches "showed similarities, suggesting the same syndicate was responsible"
A betting syndicate can make substantial profits if games are abandoned when the scores are favourable.

The Football Association, Premier League, and Football League congratulated the police on the successful prosecution.

In a joint statement, the three footballing bodies said: "With the outcome of today's trial, a clear message has been sent to anybody intending to use football as a vehicle for criminal activity."

Detective Superintendent Andy Sellers, of the Metropolitan Police, said: "I have no doubt that two games in the previous season, which had similarities in the way they failed, suggest it must have been the same syndicate."

The BBC's David Willis reports: "Asia has found soccer corruption virtually impossible to stamp out"
The scam was discovered when two Malaysians and Liu were caught with a "circuit-breaker" at the ground of Charlton Athletic on 10 February.

They had planned to plant the electrical device to sabotage the floodlighting. It was to be triggered with a remote control unit when the score favoured the syndicate during a fixture at the Valley against Liverpool on 13 February.

The potential for huge profits meant they could promise to pay Charlton Athletic's security guard Roger Firth £20,000 to let them into the ground to plant the device.

The four are to be sentenced next Wednesday.

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