Croydon Athletic could face a league and FA inquiry following the revelations in yesterday’s News of the World that the club had been bought simply to launder the money from betting scams similar to the one involving the Pakistan Test cricket team exposed in the Sunday newspaper.
Millionaire Croydon property developer Mazhar Majeed, 35, was released on bail last night by the police after he had appeared in the News of the World boasting of how he could orchestrate the actions of Pakistani cricketers to deliver no balls to order, in order to land massive betting coups.
Majeed became co-owner of Croydon Athletic FC in July 2008. While being secretly filmed, he told the undercover reporters from the News of the World that the only reason he bought the club was to help him launder some of his betting scam winnings.
It is the second time in just two months that the funding of Croydon Athletic has been linked to allegations of illegal activities.
Last month, Dean Fisher, the Ryman Premier League club’s former chairman and son of the club’s founder, Ken Fisher, was jailed for three years after defrauding more than £500,000 from his Bayswater employers.
It was claimed in court that Fisher had used £260,000 to support the club, something which Croydon Athletic has denied.
Fisher, 36, from Caterham, had managed the football club’s accounts and finances on behalf of Majeed.
According to the club, Fisher had been “instrumental in bringing in new owner Roy Price and then latterly Mazhar Majeed” to Croydon Athletic.
During his trial, it emerged that Fisher had spent around £130,000 of the proceeds of his fraud on gambling.
Croydon Athletic won promotion from Isthmian League Division 1 South as champions last season. Other local non-league clubs have grumbled openly about their rivals’ relative “big spending” in recent seasons.
Today, Croydon Athletic are due to play at Carshalton.
Last night, the club posted a statement on its website saying it was “both devastated and appalled” to hear of their owner, Majeed, being linked to the match-fixing allegations.
The club appears to expect that the football authorities may want to take a closer look into its financial dealings. “We await the guidance of the Ryman League in the next few weeks,” the statement said.
In July, Croydon Athletic maintained that any money that Fisher had put in to the club had been repaid by Majeed, and that this had been confirmed by a recent Football Association audit of the club’s accounts.
The club said that Fisher was “answerable for considerable unauthorised spending which disrupted the club’s financial planned budget for the season”.
Fisher stood down as club chairman in November last year, around the time that his fraud had been uncovered by his employers and criminal proceedings were expected to begin. Then, the club issued a statement explaining his resignation being “for family reasons”.
Fisher’s replacement as club chairman, David LeCluse, runs a Beckenham-based pest-control business.