Further and Final Statement from Board of Directors
We are now in a position to report further to the statement of 10 April 2018, where we reported that the Bostik Appeal Board had fined us £100 (the minimum sanction available to them) in regards to the ineligibility of Yannis Ambroisine.
Yesterday the Club, with their legal representatives, appeared at the FA before a FA Challenge Cup and FA Trophy Sub-Committee.
We are now in a position to explain the facts behind the ineligibility of Ambroisine, which led to both the League and FA charges. The offence the club was guilty of (and given the legal nature of the charges we had no choice but to plead guilty to) was that Ambroisine had not been given an international transfer certificate (more commonly known as ‘international clearance’). By selecting a player who required international clearance but who had not been granted to it, we had selected an ineligible player.
When the player signed for us in January 2017 as a non-contract player and again in the summer of 2017, he indicated to us that he had not ever previously played abroad. He (and on the first occasion also his agent) represented on this registration form that this was the case. As the player was joining us from Hayes & Yeading and was known to us to have previously also played for a number of UK clubs – such as North Greenford United, Southall and Waltham Forest – our club secretary accepted at face value the assertion that this was a player who was domestic and had not played abroad. Where at the time or in the past we have signed players where we knew of a non-domestic playing background, international clearance has been applied for and obtained. In this case, it was thought there was no need to apply.
As it transpired, the player had in fact – some years earlier – played in France. Our misfortune went further, since this in itself would not have been problematic if one of his previous clubs had have applied for international clearance. It transpires that none of them did, which meant that despite an extensive English playing record, the player remained without international clearance by the time we signed him and throughout the duration of his stay with us.
Given during this period the player appeared in six FA Cup fixtures and two FA Trophy fixtures, the charges we faced before the FA yesterday were serious because the usual sanction for playing an ineligible player in a Cup fixture is disqualification from that competition (or, at least, be ordered to replay). Clearly those remedies were no longer available to the FA Cup or FA Trophy sub-committees and so the sanctions imposed were that we be ordered to repay the prize money that we obtained from those fixtures. We were not ordered to repay gate receipts or TV revenues which ordinarily would have been the case. No further action was ordered against the club (which could have been the case), nor were costs ordered against the club. Whilst the order that we repay prize money is a significant blow to the club, it was due to the significant mitigating circumstances that we were able to present (as we did before the League) that the sanctions imposed against us were not as punitive as they could have been.
Unfortunately, despite the fact that no one is suggesting we attempted to play a player we knew was ineligible or that indeed we gained any sporting advantage (it would have been quite simple to have obtained international clearance for him, had it been apparent it was required) from playing him, the strict liability nature of the player ineligibility offences means that we had no choice but to admit the charges against us and – as we did – advance our mitigating circumstances in the strongest possible terms.
The club will now ensure it manages this financial blow accordingly and is confident it will continue the good progress it has enjoyed over the last few years, despite this setback
Board of Directors
Updated 13:43 - 18 Apr 2018 by Alfie Gates