FA’s Disciplinary Procedures Need Addressing ASAP

The farcical situation surrounding the conclusion of the Ryman League Premier Division season once again highlights the laughable and lackadaisical approach toward administration from the game’s governing body.

The second to fifth placed teams in the Ryman League Premier Division should now be planning for their playoff campaigns as they compete to join champions Maidstone United in Step Two. However, thanks to the archaic systems in place, the Towners now face an agonising wait to find out if they will be allowed to compete in the end of season extension.

The situation, in case you’re not familiar, surrounds midfielder Aryan Tajbakhsh. He played for the team back in January when he should have been under suspension. The club were not aware of the players’ ineligibility after doing their checks, and when they did realise they contacted the FA immediately. They were advised that the player should sit out the next two games in order to complete his ban, which he did. Enfield were told that this would then be the end of the matter.

However, last Wednesday, they were called to a hearing in which they were found guilty of fielding an ineligible player – the punishment for which is a fine and the deduction of any points gained from games in which the player took part. As Enfield won the match in question, against second placed Hendon – ironically the team that they should meet in the playoffs – it now seems as though they will be deducted the three points, a deduction which will see them drop from fifth to seventh, and out of the playoffs altogether. In this instance, their place would be taken by Met Police.

Now, I have absolutely no problem with the offence, or the punishment levied. It is the same at all levels of the game, and seems completely fair to me. The problem, of course, lies with the ridiculous nature of the FA’s dealing with the matter. Why has it taken four months to deal with this? And why have they decided to take action when they informed the club that it had been dealt with? The fact that the FA told the club to leave the player out of two games following Enfield notifying them confirms that the governing body acknowledged that the problem was their fault surely?

This is not the first time clubs are being told one thing and then something else happening entirely. It is happening with alarming regularity now, which is a clear indication that something is wrong at head office. To their credit, Enfield Town are not appealing the punishment itself, they are questioning the points raised here. They have been completely transparent in their communications, even going so far as issuing an open letter to their fellow Premier Division clubs. In that letter, they make three proposals:

  1. To replay the game against Hendon,
  2. To carry over the points deduction to next season due to the late notification from the FA, and
  3. To change the wording in the laws of the game regarding the matter.

As they say in their open letter, the disciplinary system at this level is not fit for purpose. It needs to be sorted out, and urgently. Otherwise, it puts unnecessary stress on clubs and their secretaries, who have a hard enough (unpaid) job as it is without having to do the FA’s job for them too.


About James Bartaby

Hey, I'm James and I'm relatively new to non-league football, having only taken in my first match in September 2011. Despite it being a 0-4 defeat for Hampton & Richmond Borough, I became a huge fan of the club and NL in general. So much so that they are now the first club that I mention when talking about which team I support! I just got massively disillusioned with top flight football in this country and the attitudes of the lawmakers and top clubs in general, and I wanted to start taking my son to see decent football. I am now the club's Deputy Press Officer, and loving every minute!

Posted on April 26, 2015, in Isthmian League, Opinion and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. The FA have never been fit for purpose, especially when it concerns Non League.

  2. It looks as if someone ‘higher up,’ with a determination to hold to the letter of the law at all costs has overruled the original decision. Can Enfield produce evidence of the request for the ‘offending’ player to sit out two games to avoid any sanctions? In which case a legal challenge could be made, but at a heavy cost no doubt!
    Another case for those who love the game and exercise common sense – and not least in lower leagues (let’s get rid of the NON – league nonsense because teams in Step 7 and below are also in a league of some sort) to get themselves elected to the FA boards and committees.

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