These articles are published in the Slough Town FC programme. The Rebels play in the Southern Premier - just seven leagues below the Premier League. I’ve been supporting Slough since the beginning of time despite now living in Brighton. After nearly 14 nomadic years we finally have a brand spanking new home in Slough.

Friday, March 09, 2018

COMPUTER SAYS NO

Printed in the Southern League Premier Division game v Frome Town Saturday 10th March 2018. We won 2-1 in front of 581 people.

When so many lower league clubs are getting punished for messing up player registration, its time the authorities took a proper look at how its come to this – especially when it has such a dramatic impact on promotion and relegation. 
 
Just a flick through the Non League pyramid and you have Shaw Lane, Halesowen, Sutton Coldfield, Cleethorpes, Frickley Athletic, Molesey, Shoreham, Potters Bar, Dareham Town, those well known law-breakers Met Police, Swanage, Bemerton Heath, Guisborough Town, Hall Road Rangers, Wivenhoe Town, Ely City, Burnham, Witheridge, Bedlington Town, Arnold Town, Farleigh Rovers, Kent Football United (actually they deserve a points reduction for such a ridicolous name), Folland Sports, Gravesham Borough, FC Bolsover, Portishead Town, Cheltenham Saras and more all falling foul of the regulations.
You've got to feel sorry for Swanage whose season has been derailed thanks to a 12 point deduction by the Dorset Premier League for fielding a player who had not got international clearance. That player is Nat Scott who went to college in the USA between August 2011 and April 2015. His last game was in November 2014 for Oklahoma City FC. The standard of college football is unpaid and non professional but to play football in the USA you need international clearance (that's right, international clearance to play football, but only a pulse to buy a gun). This international clearance would be done by the University you were attending, so the student would be totally unaware of this process. On your return to your home country you would again need to obtain international clearance and this is what Nat failed to do. At first he signed for Handy Sports and after three months he was signed by Swanage who said that signing him from a fellow club in Dorset they were totally unaware and are now appealing.
Last year a mistake cost Haywards Heath Town promotion after one of their players failed to pay his part of a small collective fine imposed whilst he was playing for Fisher FC. His suspension for not stumping up a whole ten pounds was not listed on the FA website at the time of his signing and instead was only entered there retrospectively; so how the hell would they know about it? Worse, it wasn't till June that they found out that a points deduction meant that Shoreham got promoted instead – but with so little time to prepare that hasn't worked out well for Shoreham who are rooted to the bottom of the league (and ironically have a points deduction for mucking up player registration).
It really doesn't do anyone any favours to make secretaries jobs harder. And its not just me that thinks you shouldn't need a law degree to be a football secretary. Northern Premier League Chairman Mark Harris says it must be an 'absolute priority' for Non League football to keep working towards a robust registrations system that reduces the number of rule breaches. “The administrative burden on volunteering secretaries at this level is getting tougher and tougher. Why?”
The manager of Bowers & Pitsea have said they feel sorry for two of their rivals after they were docked points ahead of the final push for promotion. The Football Association charged Potters Bar Town and Dereham Town with a breach of rule E10 - failure to comply with an automatic suspension – with the points deduction meaning they have lost vital ground. Bowers have also been the victim of an FA charge this season and were thrown out of the FA Trophy after playing someone suspended. Bowers, like Dereham and Potters Bar, had been relying on the FA’s Disciplinary System to gauge how many yellow cards the player had accrued this season, unknowing that the player had been registered twice for different clubs. Bowers manager Rob Small said “Having been through a similar situation in our FA Trophy debacle this season I don’t like to see this sort of thing happen even when there is a perceived benefit to my club. I sympathise with the players and management at both clubs because they will feel robbed of what they believed to be three well-earned points. I’m not educated enough around how the systems work but if a system is allowing double entries I would like to know what the FA plan to do moving forward to reduce the risk to clubs.”
The lower you go down in the football pyramid and the more work falls on the shoulders of too few volunteers. Infact the situation is so bad that Northern Premier League Chairman Mark Harris reckons that if you offered either £20,000 or more volunteers to people in charge of football clubs, they would plump for more volunteers.
So how about this FA, make it easier for people who are doing a job for love not money and not punish them and the clubs they are trying to support.

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