Why did Clapton FC remain in the FA Vase despite fielding an ineligible player – yet Guildford City were kicked out for a similar offence?
That was the question many have been asking in the last week as the fiasco of the on-off tie with Hertford Town rumbled on.
“So the punishment for playing a ringer in a drawn game is a replay? That’ll teach ’em.” – Ladderman on the Non-League Matters forum
“I thought they had an ineligible player? Shambolic decision on the face of it.” Chasing Robson-Kanu on Twitter
“What is the difference? One removed but one can stay. Typical of you FA” Venkysout on Twitter
Even the Hertford manager Gavin Kelsey suggested Clapton should be thrown out – “rules are rules”.
The issue was also discussed on the Non-League Football podcast – on which Caroline Barker’s guests hailed the decision as a victory for common sense.
Here are the facts as we understand them
- Different rules were breached by Clapton (16c) and Guildford (15ii) – therefore it’s not surprising there would be different outcomes
- Guildford played a loan player – expressly forbidden under any circumstances. It’s not a question of late paperwork, he could never have been allowed to play
- Yakup Seyer, who hasn’t played anywhere else since his spell at the Tons last season, told Clapton FC News that he signed the registration forms as normal and on time
- Here is the key part – the FA ruling said it was satisfied “the club did not know and could not reasonably have known… the player was ineligible“
- The only conclusion to be drawn from that is the club did what it had to do – submit the registration by 12 noon on Friday – and the error was outside of its control
So that leaves three options
- A technical error (stray email or fax machine out of paper, perhaps?)
- An Essex Senior League error
- An FA error
We asked the Essex Senior League for comment and to help clear up the confusion.
A representative of the ESL said: “Unfortunately this is not something the league is able to comment on.
“Clapton FC and The FA are the appropriate bodies to discuss the replay situation with.”
In the meantime, both clubs have been messed around, forced to rearrange games and are out of pocket – and fans have to pay full whack for entry to the rearranged game.
That match takes place tonight at Hertford Town FC’s ground, 7.45pm. Yakup Seyer will not be allowed to play.