Players tried to fix the result of a football match but failed when a pre-game meeting did not go ahead, a court heard.

Former Whitehawk Football Club players Michael Boateng, Hakeem Adelakun, both 22, and Moses Swaibu, 24, appeared at the first day of their bribery trial at Birmingham Crown Court yesterday.

They were alongside Chann Sankaran, 33, from Hastings, and Krishna Ganeshan, 43, over an allegation they took part in a conspiracy to alter the result of games.

Robert Davies, prosecuting, told the jury on the first day of the five-week trial that Sankaran and Ganeshan were “central figures”, while the three players were “willing recruits”.

He said the two had come to the UK from Singapore to target the non-league conference football in what he said was a match-fixers’ “Goldilocks scenario”.

He explained the term referred to the minimum level of bribe needed to alter the games with a maximum return.

The jury heard a middleman – who cannot be named for legal reasons – worked with the five defendants in an attempt to fix matches.

A number of recordings were played to the court which were made by an undercover officer working for the National Crime Agency.

One heard Sankaran tell the officer, who was posing as a financier, that he had Whitehawk and fellow Conference South side Bromley “under his control”.

The undercover officer said: “I’ve never heard of them, can you even get a bet on them?”

Sankaran said: “Yes you can, I’ve done this before.”

Mr Davies said the conspiracy focused its first, albeit unsuccessful, efforts on a game involving Whitehawk.

He said: “We say Sankaran is being pretty clear, he’s looking for a 3-0 defeat for Whitehawk.

“This is a small club, where supporters will go there and pay money – all the while there is a fraud going on.”

He added: “That is not sport, that is something else.”

Mr Davies told the jury the match was not fixed in the end after the players failed to meet with the men posing as the investors.

Although the opposition was not named, the game took place between November 1 and 26 2013.

In another recording, from Ganeshan’s telephone, he can be heard telling an unidentified person he was looking to make “between £75,000- £100,000” on a cup tie involving non-league clubs on November 30.

Swaibu is alleged to have accepted financial incentives including £2,446 in cash, while Boateng and Adelakun are alleged to have received incentives of £367 each.

Sankaran, of Hawthorn Road, Hastings, and Ganeshan, of Hougang Avenue, Singapore, deny conspiracy to commit bribery and three further counts of bribery by offering the players cash.

Boateng, of Davidson Road, Croydon, Adelakun, of Mayfield Crescent, Thornton and Swaibu, of Tooley Street, London, all deny bribery.

The trial continues.