A former Whitehawk defender and a businessman have been jailed for their role in a match-rigging scam.

Former Hawks player Michael Boateng has been jailed for 16 months and businessman Krishna Ganeshan for five years by a Crown Court judge today for conspiracy to commit bribery.

Judge Melbourne Inman QC fingered Hastings-based Ganeshan as the “head of the conspiracy” along with Singaporean Chann Sankaran who was also jailed for five years.

The judge added that the men targeted lower-league footballers because the cost of bribing them was much lower than top-level players and that Boateng’s “pure greed” led him to be implicated in the plot.

Another former Whitehawk player, Hakeem Adelakun, of Thornton Heath in south London, was acquitted by the jury of any involvement in the conspiracy on Tuesday.

The co-conspirators had denied trying to throw the results of football matches, including the game between AFC Wimbledon and Dagenham Redbridge on November 26 last year, in order to make money from bets placed on the outcomes.

The scheme was uncovered by surveillance and covertly recorded conversations following an investigation initially by the Daily Telegraph and later the National Crime Agency.

Ganeshan was recording telling a contactthat he was expecting to make sums of "75,000 to 100,000", of which the judge said "whether euros, US dollars or pounds, it's a significant amount of money".

Ganeshan and Sankaran were addressed by the judge who said: "I am satisfied you were at the head of this conspiracy, you two were the controlling minds.

"The two of you came to this country in November last year, for the sole reason of visiting clubs to find players you could corrupt to fix matches.

"This was an, if not sophisticated, then well-planned and determined conspiracy motivated by the expectation of significant gain."

Judge Inman said it was "sad to see" Boateng, who it was heard had been a valued church and charity group youth worker in London, before the court after he was found to have received 450 euros from the men.

His barrister, Denis Barry, told the judge that children in the south London community where he volunteered felt "very badly let down" by a man they had seen as a role model.

Judge Inman said: "You allowed yourself to quickly be drawn in to this scheme."

He added that he was "perfectly willing to corrupt other footballers" as part of the conspiracy including one of his oldest friends, Adelakun.

There was no evidence submitted in court that the outcome of a match was ever thrown.