THE former general manager of Swindon Town is facing a prison sentence after being found guilty of fraud.

Steve Murrall, who left the club in 2013, went on trial at Warwick Crown Court alongside builder Peter Harris.

The pair stripped the gate receipts from a League Two club’s home games before defrauding a business contact to replace the funds. Murrall was also involved in a number of other frauds.

Murrall, 49, and Harris, 47, both of Shipston-on-Stour, have been on trial at Warwick Crown Court for the past five weeks. Murrall denied five charges of fraud, while Harris denied three.

It took the jury only 19 hours to find the men guilty, Murrall of all charges and Harris of all but one.

Following the verdict, Judge Sylvia de Bertodano granted both men bail. They will return to court in November when they will be sentenced.

Judge de Bertodano told the men that the "overwhelming probability" was that they would be heading to prison.

During the trial, the court heard that in 2014, in a bid to take over Hartlepool United, then struggling in League Two, the two men set up a company called TMH 2014 Ltd, referencing the supporters’ nickname of The Monkey Hangers.

After agreeing to take over the club for a nominal £5, they had to show the league they were fit and proper persons to run it.

But despite this, they immediately instructed Hartlepool’s finance officer that all future money from home matches, including gate receipts and the bar revenue should go into TMH’s bank account.

A total of £42,453 from the next two home games was paid into the account, but did not stay there.

When it came time to repay the club, the pair did not have the money to do so.

In January 2015 they persuaded a business contact to loan them £50,000 over seven days at 20 per cent interest. It, too, was never repaid.

Prosecutor, Miranda Moore QC, told the jury that Murrall was "a gambler in the true sense, spending tens of thousands of pounds, if not hundreds of thousands, betting and losing online".

“He organised several fraudulent schemes in an attempt to obtain money. Sometimes he succeeded, and sometimes he didn’t.

“Mr Harris is a friend of Mr Murrell, and is a builder by trade, with no real experience of finance or running a company of any note. He’s the clean name on company documents, put forward as the figurehead of the companies by Mr Murrall.”

The frauds came to light after Murrall was made bankrupt in 2015 and had to hand over computer equipment, on which evidence was found which triggered an investigation.