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Chairman of football club linked with spot-fixing dead

Agencies

Posted: Oct 04, 2010 at 1718 hrs IST
      

London: David LeCluse, the chairman of a UK football club embroiled in the recent spot-fixing scandal that rocked Pakistan cricket, has allegedly committed suicide, media reports said.

Croydon Athletic chairman LeCluse, 44, was found dead with gun-shot wounds on the body by a family member on Saturday morning in a garage near his home in Surrey, the Times reported today.

He was appointed at Croydon Athletic last November by the Ryman League club's co-owner Mazhar Majeed, who is under investigation for his alleged involvement in a match-fixing syndicate based in Pakistan.

LeCluse, who leaves behind his wife and two children, was said to be devastated when the club became engulfed in the cricketing scandal, particularly as Majeed was a close friend.

Tim O'Shea, the club's former manager, told the daily that LeCluse had been badly affected by the scandal. "He was very upset at the allegations and the club getting involved."

"It probably hit him harder than most because of his personal friendship with Majeed. He wanted nothing more than for the club to succeed and he was probably upset and affected by it more than anybody else."

According to the report, Majeed said the "only reason" he bought Croydon Athletic was to launder money through it.

Majeed was arrested and released on bail on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud bookmakers after he was caught in a tabloid News Of The World sting claiming that he could arrange no-balls during a Test at Lord's against England for Pound 150,000.

The tabloid alleged the then Pakistan captain Salman Butt, pacer Muhammad Asif and Muhammad Amir of being involved in this spot-fixing scandal. Identity of the fourth team member has been kept secret.

According to the report, Croydon's assets were frozen since August as Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs officers examine its books as part of the investigation into Majeed's affairs.

The club is being investigated by the Football Association for alleged financial irregularities. LeCluse, his wife and a business partner were arrested and released on bail in connection with this case.

Croydon Athletic came close to collapse and its management, including O'Shea, quit as they had not been paid. All but one of the players moved to other clubs.

Although it has not been established why LeCluse would commit suicide, friends said he was under enormous pressure due to the club's financial situation.

Two weeks ago the club was rescued from liquidation after Majeed provided Pound 10,000 bond to the Ryman league to underwrite costs for the rest of the season. Dave Garland and Bob Langford, two former managers, returned to take charge of the squad and the club appealed for players willing to appear without payment.

The new squad comprises volunteer players and apprentices from the club's academy.

A statement on the club's website said: "Croydon Athletic are deeply shocked and saddened by the sudden tragic death of their chairman, David LeCluse on Saturday October 2.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with David's wife and children, and we would ask everyone to respect their privacy at this devastating time for them."

The club, which began playing again two weeks ago, have lost all four of their matches, including a 4-0 defeat by Hendon on Saturday. The club's future beyond this season is still in doubt.

Majeed is trying to sell it but two prospective buyers have already pulled out.

The club's most recent accounts for the year ending June 2009, show a loss of Pound 393,083, the report said.

Croydon are due to play Wealdestone at home on Wednesday.

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