SUPPORTERS TRUSTS LETTER TO CONFERENCE AND FA
11 Mar 2009
Media coverage: Mansfield CHAD, BBC website, Bognor Regis Observer.
FULL LETTER TO THE CONFERENCE:
OxVox (Oxford United Supporters Trust) c/o Trevor Lambert, Address removed, and
Stags Fans United (Mansfield Town Supporters Trust) c/o Martin Shaw, Address removed
Chairman, The Football Conference Ltd
31-34 Waterloo Street
Birmingham B2 5TJ
10 March 2009
cc: Lord Triesman, Chairman, The Football Association
Dear Mr Lee,
Thank you for your letter of 24 February with regard to the Supporters' Petition which OxVox delivered to the Football Conference offices in Birmingham on 19 February 2009.
We are pleased to learn from your letter that the petition was presented to the Conference Directors at their Board Meeting of 23 February 2009, and that the Board at that meeting 'acknowledged the concerns of the supporters'.
Everyone involved with Conference football has suffered as a result of this fiasco. The Conference Football product is devalued in the eyes of supporters, and perhaps sponsors, if there is a perception that the competition is poorly administered, and that points, and ultimately League positions, are determined in part by central administrative shortcomings. What is needed are steps to convince everyone that the Conference is being run professionally, as befits the highest levels of the non-league pyramid.
As we are sure you appreciate, five thousand football supporters took the trouble to sign the petition online or in person during the period of approximately two weeks during which it was running. These included many supporters of the four clubs, Oxford United, Mansfield Town, Crawley Town, and Bognor Regis Town, who have each suffered points deductions during the current season, but also significant numbers from other Conference clubs and clubs in higher Leagues.
We do of course welcome the review being undertaken by the Conference and appreciate that such a review takes time if it is to be comprehensive and set down improvements for the future. However, we would urge your review team to make their findings known as soon as is possible.
We hope that you will consider and clarify:
a) Whether the penalties outstanding for the clubs in the current season are in fact justified, in the light of the apparent shortcomings in the registration system which gave rise to the penalties.
b) In particular, whether the system in place until November, which did not apply consistent registration checks to all players in each squad in each round of matches, amounted to a randomness of approach, and therefore to penalties which were unfair between clubs.
c) Whether, following the registration problems at four Conference clubs coming to light, the Conference carried out a comprehensive review of all clubs in the Conference Premier, North, and South, to establish whether the problem was more widespread. If so, what were the findings of the review? If there was no such comprehensive review, why not, and how can you be confident that the four teams in question are not being punished unfairly?
d) Whether or not a full points refund is the most equitable solution this season, given the problems raised with the current system.
e) Whether the potential and actual penalties for registration anomalies are proportionate to the offence. It is surely inappropriate to deduct five points, four points, seven points, or indeed potentially many more for a simple paperwork error, when falling into administration with all that that entails attracts only a penalty of 10 points.
f) Whether you feel in principle that points deductions are appropriate for matters of this kind. Many will feel that points should be won and lost on the field of play and not in a committee room.
We trust that your announcement will detail any and all changes to your rules and administrative procedures, as this will go a long way to helping to restore supporter confidence in the Conference. Please could you confirm the date for the completion of the review and for the publication of its findings, both to clubs and to supporters. Why is it not possible to issue the review findings immediately?
We would like to see a stated date, because we are confused about your plans. The implication of the initial statement on the Conference website was that the results would be announced on February 23rd, though a close reading of the wording of that statement admitted the interpretation that the review team would simply report back to the Conference Board on that date. More recently, you wrote that 'A statement MAY (your capitals) be made following the Appeal Hearing on Friday 27 February 2009'. Now we hear that the review may not be issued until the end of the season.
We find it completely unacceptable that the publication of the review team findings may now be kicked into the 'long grass' of the close season. Supporters and clubs deserve better than that. Your findings will be awaited with interest by all Conference clubs and their supporters.
Trevor Lambert Martin Shaw
(on behalf of OxVox, (on behalf of Stags Fans United,
Oxford United supporters trust) Mansfield Town supporters trust)
The Football Association
25 Soho Square
Dear Lord Triesman
We enclose a copy of a letter sent today to Brian Lee, the Chairman of the Football Conference, regarding the Conference's review of its procedures following this season's points deductions.
Over five thousand supporters of Conference football have expressed their concern by signing a petition, the wording of which was as follows:
To: The Football Conference Review Team
We the undersigned, supporters of Conference league clubs, believe that the points deductions this season to four clubs (Mansfield Town, Oxford United, Crawley Town and Bognor Regis Town) are arbitrary and excessive, and have arisen in large part due to inadequate procedures in the central Conference administration.
We call on you to take a bold step to recognise that poor Conference administration has played a significant role in these cases, and that fundamental improvements are required if the national and regional Conference league competitions are to maintain the confidence of supporters, clubs, and sponsors.
We therefore urge you, as an acknowledgement of past failures, to rescind immediately the points deductions imposed on each of the four clubs.
We are extremely concerned that the promised review seems to have been put on the back burner.
Is the FA minded to take an interest, given that many supporters anticipated a statement from the Conference following the outcome of the Crawley Town appeal on February 27th?
With best wishes,
Conference will not hide review
11 Mar 2009
Hutchinson and Rankin's registrations earned their clubs points deductions
The Football Conference insists the results of an internal review into its administrative procedures will be made publicly available.
Oxford United's supporters group Oxvox had feared that fans would not be able to view the findings.
Conference spokesman Chris Bird said: "There is progress being made on the review that was promised.
"That is still ongoing, and will be presented to the board first and then that will be made public."
The review was set up after United, Crawley, Bognor Regis and Mansfield had points docked for fielding unregistered players.
In an open letter to Conference chairman Brian Lee, representatives of Oxvox, and their Mansfield equivalent Stags Fans United, said: "Everyone involved with Conference football has suffered as a result of this fiasco.
"The Conference football product is devalued in the eyes of supporters, and perhaps sponsors, if there is a perception that the competition is poorly administered, and that points, and ultimately league positions, are determined in part by central administrative shortcomings.
"What is needed are steps to convince everyone that the Conference is being run professionally, as befits the highest levels of the non-league pyramid."
After originally stating the review committee would report back at the end of last month, the Conference will not now name a date for publication - only saying it will happen before the end of the season, after their board has been shown the findings.
Conference ready to come up with answers
Bognor Regis Observer, 11 March 2009
THE CONFERENCE are finally starting to answer questions over their player registration system which has cost the Rocks a seven-point deduction.
The Observer and fans have been demanding answers for weeks over how the fact a player had not been registered went undetected for nearly three months.
Conference chiefs have put off giving answers, saying a sub-committee are reviewing administration of the league.
But after the Observer asked one question again on the particular point of whether all players in the league had now been checked, a spokesman said they were satisfied players were registered.
Earlier stories here.
Latest | March 2009