At 5pm last night Friday 9th we received confirmation from the FA that Shaw Lane AFC had been removed from the FA Trophy for playing an ineligible player (Alexander Byrne) in the game v Nantwich Town.
We were offered the opportunity to appeal the decision but our intention to appeal must be lodged by 10 am on Monday 12th December, this gives us just one working hour to get any kind of advice from our solicitor should we appeal. The hearing will be on Tuesday 13th , this gives us no time whatsoever to try and get any professional representation to support us at the hearing.
Having said this, we will be appealing the decision and will represent ourselves at the hearing, as a club we are devastated that the mitigating circumstances that we have already put forward have been ignored, our basis of appeal is for the following:
The player in question was registered with his previous club with an incorrect date of birth and as Alex. When Shaw Lane registered him we used all details, full name and with the correct date of birth. This created in effect two players Alex Byrne and Alexander with two different dates of birth on the FA members services portal that is used by all clubs to monitor their discipline.
Like all clubs, we use the FA's own members services portal to monitor discipline for all players registered, at no time did Alexander Byrne show any cautions other than the ones he accrued whilst playing for Shaw Lane AFC. It is important to note that this is the only official system available to monitor discipline, For example another player we have signed mid season shows his previous cautions accrued this season from both his previous clubs. Why did the system not highlight Alexander Byrne - because he had a different identity within the system due to his incorrect date of birth from his previous clubs mistake.
When Alex had accrued 4 cautions following the Nantwich game, we advised Alex that he needs to be careful as one more caution would result in a suspension, Alex advised that he believed he had a booking at the start of the season whilst playing for his previous club. It was at this point that we raised our concern with the FA who investigated this and found that there was another Alex Byrne with a different DOB who had actually received 2 cautions. The FA also advised that we should suspend Alexander Byrne for our next fixture, which we did. They have since said he should serve a further ban for the same offence.The FA subsequently merged the two identities on the members system to create one identity and this then meant Alex should have been suspended for the Nantwich game. This was us bringing an issue to the FA that they were completely unaware of, no blame can be proportioned to us for this as we have followed all the correct procedures when registering the player and in monitoring his discipline on the system.
If we as a club had not raised this concern with the FA then this would never have come to light as there were 2 separate players in the system and the FA Trophy tie v Lincoln City would have been played as planned. The whole point of this system is to check discipline, if it can't be relied upon to find out a players disciplinary history from his previous clubs then the system is flawed. The FA say you should ask the player and their previous club(s), in this case when the transfer is done acrimoniously then this is not credible and can't be relied upon, so the only way clubs have of finding out for sure is the FA's members system.
Shaw Lane are a victim of a system with flaws and are being punished by The FA when we have taken all reasonable steps and then some to ensure we manage discipline correctly and professionally , our club secretary is the most meticulous man I have ever worked with and thus why as a club we register the players with full and correct details and check the discipline members system rigorously for our registered players.
I whole heartedly apologise for the inconvenience this has caused Lincoln City and Nantwich Town, this tie was our cup final, our biggest ever game and a game that all associated with our club were looking forward to. We don't deserve to be treated in this when it is clear a system and admin failure and thus whywe will be appealing the decision.
In the meantime The FA have announced that Nantwich will now play Lincoln on Tuesday evening, however this would be pending our appeal. How are clubs supposed to organise a fixture of this magnitude with no time. Playing Lincoln City becomes a regulated game and upon police advise has to be prepared for almost like a football league game, with high level of policing.
I ask Anyone who has purchased tickets through our telephone system or club shop to hold on to them until our appeal is heard, if we are unsuccessful then we will issue a full refund.
Craig Wood (Chairman)