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Banbury United deducted four points

Banbury United’s play-off hopes have received a dent after the club was found to have played an inelegible played in two Southern League Central Premier matches.

On Saturday, August 11 and Tuesday, August 14 the club fielded Ravin Shamsi when his loan registration with the FA had not been processed in accordance with their requirements.

Banbury drew the first match 1-1 at Rushall Olympic and won the next fixture at home to Halesowen Town 2-1.

After a lengthy process, the club has been docked four points and now sits ten adrift of the play-off places.

A Southern League statement read: “The Club was charged by the FA with breaches of its rules and found guilty. The matter was then passed on to the League who duly charged the Club in September with playing an ineligible player in the two matches. The case was heard by the League’s Board in November and the Club found guilty. The decision being that the Club would be deducted the four points gained and have levied on it a fine.

“The Club then exercised its right to appeal the decision to the FA and the case was heard on Monday 14th January at the FA, Wembley.

“The appeal was upheld on the basis that the League had omitted information on its original charge letter to the Club. However, the FA Appeal Panel exercised its right to hear the case again that day without the presence of the League and instead considering the Club’s submission.

“The decision of the FA Appeal Panel was conveyed to the Club and the League on Monday 28th January. The decision being that the Club was found guilty of playing an ineligible player, deducted the four points gained and had levied on it a fine.”

Banbury have explained their version of events: “The Board of Directors of the club is very disappointed to announce that we have been deducted four points by The Football Association in respect of an administrative error relating to the loan of Ravi Shamsi from Maidenhead in August 2018.

“The loan was confirmed and the registration lodged and accepted by the Southern League on the 2 August. However a copy of the loan form is required by the FA prior to the player playing. This was sent at the same time but did not arrive at the FA until 16 August after the games against Rushall Olympic and Halesowen on 11 and 14 August.

“The issue obviously relates to an issue at the beginning of the season. In August the FA charged us with a breach of their regulations to which we responded.

“The FA issued a warning against the club rather than any tangible penalty.

“After The FA ruling the club were charged by the Southern League in September and responded at that time. The club were not notified of the decision of the league until 14 November. The Southern League ruled that there was a breach of regulations and the points won in those games should be deducted.

“The club appealed the decision to the FA, based on the penalty being excessive for an administrative oversight and that the club did not have a fair hearing by the league. The latter was due to, what we believed to be, the league not following its own regulations in its charge letter to the club.

“The appeal was heard on Monday 14 January at Wembley with both ourselves and representatives from the league present. The FA agreed that we had not had a fair hearing and so our appeal in respect of this was successful. However under the FA appeal regulations the FA can still consider an issue such as this and they ruled that the penalty as stated in the league regulations should be applied. We were notified of this decision yesterday, Monday 28 January.

“The Board are obviously very disappointed that this should have occurred and checks were not made prior to Ravi playing. Since the takeover by the Community Benefit Society and in recent years our football administration, had, until now, remained at this highest level. It is easy but remains true to say, the club is run by a number of volunteers who give their time freely and occasionally, as in all walks of professional and voluntary work, errors will be made. However, whatever we think of the harshness of the penalty, it is a lesson to ensure we do not let anything similar happen in the future.

“We are very disappointed that it has taken over five months since the incident for the matter to be concluded.”

Manager Mike Ford added: “This is obviously disappointing news and as all points we gain are hard earned it does feel that we have been harshly treated. During my tenure as manager of this great club we have overcome many obstacles of which this is another and I’m sure there will be others in the upcoming years. We must now stand as one, retrieve the points we have lost as quickly as possible and once again push on as we have done over the last three and a half years.

“We know that there will be anger and frustration among players and supporters alike at this news. We apologise for this. Of course we do not want the fantastic progress that has been achieved on and off the pitch as a supporters’ owned club to be damaged by our first major setback. We would urge supporters, whatever their views, to not let negativity pervade the club.”

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