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Archived News from January 2009

29th January 2009 14:34

Crawley Town appeal against points deduction

Steve Evans on BBC Non League Show, 26 Jan 09 here


26 January 2009

CRAWLEY Town have lodged an appeal to the Conference against their four points penalty deduction for fielding an unregistered player.
After taking legal advice on the matter, they sent their documentation by courier to Conference headquarters in Birmingham today (Monday).

The club do not want to publicise the details of the case before the appeal hearing.

However Reds are understood to feel they have been harshly treated by the Conference board.

The unregistered player in question, Isaiah Rankin, started one match and played a total of seven minutes in three other games as substitute.

The deduction appears to be for the one point they gained against Stevenage in the match he started plus half the points total gained in the other matches.

However the other clubs who were deducted points, Oxford Utd (five points) and Bognor Regis Town (seven points), were deducted only the total number of points for games their unregistered players started.

Crawley Town Supporters Club have offered to contribute towards the costs of the appeal but stress they will not be bankrolling the entire bill.

United will not appeal

Mon 26 Jan 2009
After considerable investigation of the wording and legalities of the Operational Rules in use in the Premier and Football Leagues, Conference and in lower Leagues together with the precedents arising from previous such appeals and having consulted fully with experienced legal advisors in this area, Oxford United confirm reluctantly that they can see no valid legal grounds for an appeal under the current Conference Rules. As a consequence, no appeal will be made by Oxford United against the decision of the Football Conference Disciplinary Panel relating to rule 6.8: Playing an Ineligible Player.

The Club feels angry, frustrated and treated harshly by the scale of the penalty imposed for a single administrative error and feels strongly that the Conference Administration is at least as responsible because of its antiquated, non-checking procedures for the compounded administrative error position. However, it is clear under their Operational Rules - unlike the Premiership and Football Leagues - that the Conference has no discretion in games where a player starts and must deduct all points earned in such games. In games where the non-Registered player starts as substitute, the Conference Rules allow discretion as to points deduction and we give credit and thanks to the Conference Disciplinary Panel for their full use of this discretion to attempt to alleviate the scale of the potential penalty for Oxford United, a penalty which would otherwise have been grossly out of proportion for the offence involved.

Oxford United feel that the maximum penalty should have been 3 points since the error should have been found after the first such occurrence by Conference Administration checking Team Sheets against recorded Registrations as is done in other Leagues - even some Sunday Leagues. For this error to continue for two and a half months before the Conference found it in a "random check" appears less than one might expect from a Professional League.

It is also disappointing to see three separate clubs whose Registration forms "were not received" at a similar time, all of whom have now received crucially important points deductions for administrative errors which could ruin their Season.

Oxford United accepts fully its fault in not noticing that a Registration Confirmation Number had not been received for Eddie Hutchinson. Our procedures within the Club have been changed regarding Registration of players to ensure this does not happen again.

However, one must view as significant that the Football Conference has changed its match-day procedures since these events to require clubs to enter the Player's Registration Number on the Team Sheet. It is also welcomed that the Conference has set up recently an obviously-needed Administrative Review Sub-Committee to investigate the failure of procedure which has resulted in large points deductions for three clubs.

In reaching its important decision not to appeal after consultation with the Manager, Woodstock Partners and legal advisors, the Club was clear that the minimum penalty would be 3 points since an offence had clearly occurred, that the 5 point mandatory penalty under the Conference Rules was certain to be upheld by the Appeal Hearing - and there was a possibility of less generous discretion in respect of the remaining 6 points.

Oxford United apologises unreservedly to its supporters for the error that caused this situation.

However, the current surge of confidence throughout the Club - from Manager to Players to Fans - with the possibility of achieving the Play-offs even after a 5 points deduction convinces us that not to appeal is a better option on all counts than risking 11 points when no valid legal argument is available.

Earlier story:
NLP, 25 Jan 09
Evans Calls In The Big Hitters
by Chris Dunlavy
Sunday, January 25, 2009

CRAWLEY manager Steve Evans will today beg his directors to appeal against the Reds' five-point deduction.

Crawley, Oxford United and Bognor Regis all have until tomorrow to decide whether to contest the respective five, four and seven-point penalties handed out
for fielding unregistered players in the first three months of the season.

The Reds' board meet to discuss the issue today and although a failed appeal would cost the club thousands, Evans believes he has a watertight case.

Conference rules say points gained from games in which an unregistered player started must be deducted – but points from sub appearances are docked at the
board's discretion.

But while Oxford and Bognor only lost points for starting appearances, Crawley were hit with an extra three, despite the fact that the player involved – Isaiah
Rankin – only played seven minutes of football as a substitute.

“I do hope the board take the decision to appeal and, if they take my advice, they will,” said Evans. “But it's complicated because if you lose, you have to pay the Conference's costs. That can come to five figures and we can∂t afford that.”

“I believe we've got a case. Ourselves and Oxford are in the same division, made the same mistake, were convicted of the same offence, but received different punishments.

We're asking: 'Do you think that we have been treated fairly?

“I would never question the integrity of Brian Lee, Mel Stein or Charlie Clapham at the Conference. But Bognor got discretion, Oxford got discretion, we did not. All I want is somebody to tell me, in layman's terms, why we have been treated differently.”

Bognor will not appeal. The NLP understands Oxford will also decide against it when their board meets today. All three clubs have criticised the competition's
random spot-checking process and called for a review.

That wish was granted by chairman Brian Lee at an EGM at Burton on Thursday. Lee said: “The board of the Football Conference deplores the recent spate of ill-informed publicity arising from the disciplinary hearings.

“However, the board has received some genuine enquiries concerning the administration of the competition and in the interest of transparency, has decided to
form an administrative review sub-committee to report back to the board on February 23, and ultimately the member clubs, on its findings.”

It is understood that Southport chairman Clapham will head the review, in which it is believed the role of general manager Dennis Strudwick, who joined
from the Southern League as secretary in the summer of 2007, may come under close scrutiny.


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