A potential clash between the Welsh Premier League and one of its clubs could be set to unfold after Connah’s Quay were deducted a point and denied a place in the top-six split, after being found to fielded an ineligible player.
The FAW acted swiftly on Saturday evening, issuing the following statement on hour after the full-time whistle, although the offence actually took place in early January:
“The Panel decided to deduct the club one Corbett Sports Welsh Premier League point and fine them £250 for fielding Lee Davey as a late substitute in the league match against Carmarthen Town (5/1/13). Davey had previously played for Colwyn Bay FC and Conwy Borough FC during the present season and while he was entitled to register for Gap Connah’s Quay – participating for three teams in one season is not permitted. Gap Connah’s Quay has seven business days in which to appeal the decision.”
The Nomads promptly responded confirming that the club would indeed be appealing and in a statement of their own, lay the blame on the FAW themselves, questioning the accuracy of their own registration database:
“We apologise for any disruption that might occur to our colleagues as we take our right to appeal. We believe we are innocent of the charge brought against us by the FAW as both prosecution and jury. We are taking this fight forward and hope you will appreciate that, if we allow this injustice to proceed, we weaken all of the clubs. If the official Welsh FA registrations database is not to be trusted … then how are clubs to protect themselves in this situation? It could easily be you charged similarly next. If the official Welsh FA registrations database is not to be trusted and is dismissed by the FAW as just advisory, then how are clubs to protect themselves in this situation?”
The final paragraph of Connah’s Quay statement ominously warns:
“We will avail of our right to appeal until no appeal process is left open to us. Unfortunately this may take some time.”
Having vigorously denied the FAW’s charges, the appeal process – particularly a lengthy one – will severely disrupt the league’s schedule.
The final day of the first phase saw five teams in contention for the remaining place in the top-six before the league split – a sure sign that the WPL’s contentious new format was certainly exciting.
Connah’s Quay and Carmarthen Town occupied pole position to lay claim to the final place to qualify for the Championship Conference, level on points with the North Walians enjoying a slender +1 goal difference.
Despite Carmarthen overcoming Newtown 4-2, Connah’s Quay breezed past Bala in front of the live television cameras, winning 6-3 and securing sixth spot – a considerable feat for the newly promoted club, whom many had tipped to be struggle.
Mark McGregor’s side would have their celebrations cut short soon after, as news broke of the point deduction – which now see’s Carmarthen take sixth place – talk throughout Welsh football was again on the drama off-the-field, sadly not on it.
As Connah’s Quay prepare to launch their appeal, fixtures for the second phase of the season will be disrupted.
Carmarthen will find themselves embroiled into the situation and along with Connah’s Quay will be unable to proceed with their second phase fixture obligations until it has been confirmed what conference each side will played.
This will also impact upon their opponents for each missed fixture meaning that Connah’s Quay, Carmarthen Town plus two other clubs, will be without a match each weekend until the issue is resolved.
Sadly, just as the league and its clubs could be praised for producing an entertaining, competitive and unpredictable first phase of the season – issues off the field once again undermine it.
One hopes for the sake of the Welsh Premier League, that the now strained relationship between the FAW and one of its club’s can be repaired after this saga, whenever that may be.