Blades chief arrested in match-fixing probe

BEIJING - The president of Chengdu Blades, the Chinese Super League (CSL) club owned by England's Sheffield United, has been arrested in China's match-fixing probe, state-run CCTV reported on Friday.

Xu Hongtao is accused of bribing a Qingdao club official in 2007 to fix a second-division match which helped Chengdu to get promotion to the top flight, the report said, citing police.

Xu and his deputy You Kewei, who was arrested last month, are alleged to have given Qingdao team manager Liu Hongwei 300,000 yuan ($43,950) in cash and a fake invoice for 200,000 yuan for one month's rental of Chengdu's training base.

Qingdao fielded a second-string team in the match on September 22, 2007, and Chengdu won 2-0.

"You, Xu and Liu, who manipulated the match result using commercial bribery, have violated the criminal law," a policeman in the task force investigating corruption in Chinese soccer was quoted as saying.

Championship side Sheffield United took over the Sichuan club in January 2006. Chengdu Blades finished seventh in the CSL this season.

You was arrested for his alleged involvement in the first case revealed by the investigation last month, which concerned a match between Guangzhou and Shanxi.

The probe into match-fixing followed a string of comments in recent months by top Communist Party officials on the need to clean up the professional game in China, which is widely perceived as being riven with corruption.