Frankly, Sinclair Was Right
Last weekend, we saw a match abandoned with seven minutes remaining due to an injury sustained by the referee. This sparked a debate between the two clubs as to why the game wasn’t completed.
In case you’re unaware, the match in question was Colwyn Bay v Altrincham in the FA Trophy Third Qualifying Round. With the away side leading 2-0 after 83 minutes, referee Mark Ackerman pulled up with a calf strain and was unable to continue. As there was no fourth official present, the hunt began for a suitable alternative to step in and officiate so the game could be completed.
An announcement was put out over the stadium tannoy appealing for a qualified official to volunteer. A fan did come forward to volunteer. The individual was a Grade 5 referee, meaning he could run the line and the game could be seen to its conclusion. However, Colwyn Bay manager Frank Sinclair was concerned that the fan had consumed alcohol, and so refused the proposal. Altrincham then offered to have their coach, Ian Senior, run the line. Again, this was refused by Colwyn Bay, who said that Senior was not qualified and so could not be trusted to get the decisions right. It has today been announced that the game will now be replayed tomorrow night (Tuesday November 19th), which in my opinion is the correct decision.
Altrincham said the game should have been awarded to them as they were winning, and well on top of the match. However, as competition rules clearly state:
“When a first match has been postponed, or is abandoned before the completion of 90 minutes and neither club being at fault, it shall be played on the same ground on or before the following Thursday.
Matches abandoned through the fault of the clubs shall be dealt with by the National Game Board.”
I’ve highlighted the key phrase. Neither club was at fault for the referee getting injured, therefore the game had to be replayed. End of.
As for the proposed solutions to complete the original game, Sinclair was well within his rights to refuse. He has been accused by representatives from Alty that he was determined that the match would be abandoned because his side were losing. And while I don’t deny he used the rules to his advantage, I certainly don’t blame him.
Bottom line: if the volunteer who steps forward is suspected of being under the influence of alcohol, then that person cannot officiate in any capacity. Similarly, an unqualified person should not be officiating either, especially when they are employed by one of the clubs taking part.
And consider this: people have cast Frank Sinclair as the bad guy because he pushed for the game his team was losing to be abandoned. But yet nobody seems to have pointed out that Alty were only desperate for the game to be completed because they were winning. If the game had been level, I doubt there would have been any controversy. And if the scoreline was the other way round, I can assure you the roles would have been also!
As stated, the game will now be replayed, and the real losers in this whole mess are the fans, as always. The travelling fans had a 130 mile round trip, and in the end it was a wasted one. For those brave souls who will make the trip again on Tuesday, at least they will only have to pay half price for their admission.
I am just awaiting the fallout should Colwyn Bay win…