SPORT
29/11/2013 11:43 GMT

Arsène Wenger Says English Football Is '99.9%' Clean Of Match-Fixing

Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger warned match-fixing will probably never be completely eradicated across the globe and accepts lower league teams in England could be vulnerable.

Two men will appear in court in Cannock on Friday after being charged with conspiracy to defraud as part of an investigation into alleged football match-fixing.

The National Crime Agency said the men, who are alleged to be members of an international illegal betting syndicate based in Singapore, are among six people arrested earlier this week as part of an ongoing investigation.

arsene wenger

Wenger does not believe match-fixing can be completely eradicated

Wenger has first-hand experience of the impact match-fixing can have from his time in charge of Monaco when French champions and 1993 European Cup winners Marseille were found guilty of corruption, relegated and thrown out of European competition by UEFA.

The Arsenal manager feels the hard work against such illegal actions must continue in earnest.

"Can it be eradicated completely? I am not sure. It is not only a concern for me, it is a shame," Wenger said. "Once you don't know if everyone is genuine out there any more, that is something absolutely disastrous.

"I think we absolutely have to fight against that with the strongest severity to get that out of the game. Maybe the lower divisions are a bit more under threat because it is a bit more anonymous, there is less money so it is easier to buy people, but I don't think that exists in the Premier League at all."

It is alleged that between 1 November and 26 November, Chann Sankaran, a 33-year-old Singapore national, and Krishna Sanjey Ganeshan, a 43-year-old with dual UK and Singapore nationality "at City of Manchester and elsewhere conspired together with each other and others to defraud bookmakers by influencing the course of football matches and placing bets thereon".

Match-fixing controversies

The maximum sentence for this offence is 10 years' imprisonment.

It emerged on Thursday that a former Premier League footballer, Delroy Facey, was among those arrested held as part of the investigation.

The suspects are reported to include three current footballers.

The arrests were made following an investigation by the Daily Telegraph during which undercover reporters discussed the possibility of influencing the scores and outcomes of lower-league English games for as little as £50,000.

It is not believed that any Premier League sides are involved in the allegations.

Wenger is confident England generally has a robust approach to such illegal approaches.

"I don't believe that in England people fix matches, but we live in an international world and you cannot just stop it at the border any more. It is a new problem that we all face," he added.

"I still think that 99.9 per cent, the English game is completely clean.

"When you see the happiness of the players when they score goals, even in the lower divisions, the passion of the fans when I was at Barnet for example, I can't believe there is a match-fixing problem in England."

Wenger believes direct comparisons between the current issues and those at Marseille cannot be made.

"That was much more serious," he said. "It was a period where European football was not clean, for different reasons, but I hope we have that behind us.

"Personally, it was one of the most difficult periods in my life, but I think even in France now, the championship is completely clean."