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House of Payne: One rule for the rich and another for the rest
11:00am Sunday 13th April 2014 in Sport
It hardly made headline news – even in these parts – but Kingstonian were thrown out of the Surrey Senior Cup last month for fielding an ineligible player against Ash United, writes John Payne.
It is not particularly unusual in non-league football for clubs to be deducted points for what tends to be little more than an administrative error.
AFC Wimbledon fans will remember how the Ryman League through the book at them with an 18-point deduction in 2006-07 for fielding Jermaine Darlington in 11 games, without having gained the necessary international clearance.
That seemed particularly draconian – with the Dons also expelled from the Surrey Senior Cup and FA Trophy – considering the international club in question was Cardiff City and, on appeal, Wimbledon eventually lost just the three points.
At higher levels, clubs are routinely docked points for going into administration and fielding unregistered players.
The most recent case, in 2010-11, saw Hereford docked three points and Torquay one after a player on each side had signed the previous day, but not been registered by the Football League in time.
So what are we to make of the Premier League announcing a hefty fine for Sunderland selecting Ji Dong-won in four league games plus a Capital One Cup tie, but no points deduction?
If there was evidence football makes the rules up as it goes along, this is it. Expunging Sunderland’s record from this season’s Capital One Cup would prove tricky as they lost 3-1 to Manchester City in last month’s final at Wembley.
But, seeing as Sunderland collected a point from their offending league fixture in Southampton, their relegation rivals have reason to question why previous precedents have been ignored.
The Dons and Ks will be among those watching with interest next time a club lower down the football food chain falls foul of some administrative mistake?
It needs clearing up – it must not just be one rule for the rich and one for the rest.