A BRIGHOUSE businessman who pulled off a major coup by attracting pop superstar Michael Jackson and psychic Uri Geller to a lower league football club has admitted his part in a fraud scam.
Former Exeter City chairman John Russell and his deputy, Michael Lewis, pleaded guilty to charges of fraudulent trading between February 2002 and May 2003 which left the club several million pounds in debt.
During their era in charge, pop superstar Jackson was made an honorary director of the club after visiting St James's Park with his friend Geller, who was appointed joint chairman.
Speaking after making their pleas at Bristol Crown Court, Russell and Lewis said they believed they were first landed in trouble when spoon-bender Geller reported them to police.
Russell insisted his actions were made in good faith and maintained that he had, in fact, reduced the club's debt.
Russell said: "It has been a bad day for football.
"It has set a precedent for clubs and it has shown that if you are insolvent, if you have got a problem, act on it quickly.
"The previous owners ought to be disgusted with themselves. They have been totally deceitful.
"We ploughed more than a million pounds into the club. The debt had been reduced. We would have been the saviours of that club."
Russell also pleaded guilty to obtaining a pecuniary advantage by deception.
The 51-year-old, of Cannon Hall Close, Brighouse, West Yorkshire, and Lewis, 65, of Loughor Road, Gorseinon, Swansea, are to be sentenced by Judge David Ticehurst following reports.
Russell's wife and former club employee Gillian Russell, 51, denied charges of theft and false accounting.