SUFFOLK FA Chief Executive Richard Neal has released a statement concerning the delay surrounding one of this season’s CNet Training Suffolk Senior Cup semi-final ties.
“Let me apologise for the lack of information and continued uncertainty regarding the CNet Training Suffolk Senior Cup semi-final, especially to the waiting Bungay Town FC who I’m sure are primed and eager to hear news on their opponents for this match. I am now in a position to provide an overview of the situation and explain the unfortunate but necessary delay.
Following the quarter final match between Leiston FC Reserves vs Brantham Athletic FC Reserves, played on Saturday 24th February 2018, Suffolk FA received an allegation that Leiston FC Reserves had fielded two ineligible players under Rule 5e(v) of the Suffolk FA County Cup Rules. In line with due process, Leiston FC Reserves were charged of this offence on Tuesday 27th February. On Wednesday 28th February, Leiston FC submitted a response denying the charge and requesting the case be put to three Suffolk FA Council members, in accordance with the outlined disciplinary procedures.
The hearing took place on Monday 5th March at Suffolk FA HQ, at which the panel came to a unanimous conclusion that the rule had been broken, and Leiston FC Reserves should be removed from the CNet Training Suffolk Senior Cup. In this instance Brantham Athletic FC Reserves would be reinstated to the competition and play against Bungay Town FC in the semi final.
Under Rule 19 of the Suffolk FA County Cup Rules, Leiston FC requested this outcome be considered by a Board of Appeal. This Board of Appeal took place on Tuesday 13th March at Suffolk FA HQ with three different commissioners. The Board understood the points made by Leiston FC, but in their view the decision taken on Tuesday 5th March was not perverse or misconceived, and therefore the decision reached on Monday 5th March was upheld.
The Suffolk FA County Cup Rules are annually discussed, reviewed and ultimately ratified at the Suffolk FA AGM, to which all Suffolk clubs and competitions are invited. The AGM leading into the 2017-2018 season was held on 13th July 2017. Through this ongoing case, it has become clear that Rule 5e(v) of the Suffolk FA County Cup Rules can be interpreted in different ways. I will be requesting this rule is reviewed in time for the 2018-2019 season in accordance with the relevant internal processes, so to ensure this scenario does not occur again. To be clear, I do not believe Leiston FC deliberately attempted to contravene this rule; indeed the club contacted Suffolk FA before the quarter final to request clarification on the eligibility on two other players. Whilst this case continues for a longer period than all involved would want, all procedures have been followed correctly by all parties.
As Suffolk FA and Leiston FC continue to work through this process, I again extend my apologies for delaying further news on this important County Cup semi final, especially to Bungay Town FC. Future timescales are unclear at this point, but I will seek to provide a further update in due course.”