Grays Athletic chairman Steve Skinner has described their expulsion from the FA Cup as a “very bitter pill to swallow” as they stand idle on Sunday.
The Blues should have been taking on Kingstonian but were kicked out of the world’s oldest cup competition by the Football Association for fielding an ineligible player.
Skinner has told the Isthmian League club’s fans they could appeal this week and “remain hopeful” of overturning Friday’s verdict from Wembley.
Eastern Counties League Division One North March Town, beaten 3-1 by the Isthmian League North Division’s Blues in the first qualifying round, will head to Kingstonian if their reprieve is confirmed.
Skinner told supporters: “The outcome is a very bitter pill to swallow for us and it is difficult to come to terms with the fact that Grays Athletic are being punished when the player involved has made incorrect declarations on three registration forms, whether intentionally or not, then represented three football clubs whilst ineligible.
“The club feel that the punishment we have received is disproportionate based on the fundamentals of the case. However, it is what it is and we remain hopeful that we can overturn the verdict at a subsequent appeal.”
According to a statement released by the Blues in the aftermath of the verdict, the player, Frankie Hession-Harris, did not feature against March but did play in Grays’ preliminary round tie with Heybridge Swifts despite not receiving international clearance.
Grays said: “The charge (Rule 15 i III) relates to fielding a player in an FA Cup game when he doesn’t hold the appropriate international clearance.
“The player this relates to is Frankie Hession-Harris, who appeared as a second half substitute in our FA Cup Preliminary Round win against Heybridge Swifts FC on 24th August 2019. Frankie has since left the club and signed for Merstham FC.
“Despite Frankie representing both Witham Town and East Thurrock United in season 2018-19, it transpires that he was never internationally cleared to play football back in England after representing a college team in the USA.
“At this stage, whilst considering an appeal, Grays Athletic do not wish to add anything further. However, whatever the final outcome, the club will release a full account of the facts in this case by further communications and via a fans meeting.”
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