Former Rotherham United footballer Delroy Facey has been jailed for two and a half years for match fixing.
The striker has become the highest-profile player to be convicted of the offence after he was found guilty of conspiracy to bribe non-league players at Birmingham Crown Court.
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’.
She said: “You have been a role model, but you have abused that position.”
The trial heard Facey – who signed a two-year contract with The Millers in 2006 – 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 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.’
She added: “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.”