Grays Athletic have confirmed they will not be appealing the decision to remove them from this season’s FA Cup.

It was announced on Friday that the club have been expelled from the competition after fielding a player who does not hold the appropriate international clearance. Chairman Steve Skinner has this morning released the following statement:

Grays Athletic FC have decided not to appeal against the punishment handed down to the club by the FA on Friday afternoon.

Whilst the club still feels very harshly treated and believes that the penalty handed to us is wholly disproportionate, we have declined the opportunity to appeal for a number of reasons.

After undertaking research, we have been unable to find any record of cases like, or similar to ours, where, on appeal, an FA Judicial panel has overturned a ruling by the FA Competition Sub-Committee.

Also, having only received the expulsion on Friday afternoon, it is very difficult to speak to a barrister over the weekend to establish whether to appeal by a Monday morning deadline. The club contacted law firms on Friday, including our preferred lawyer and unsurprisingly, barrister’s diaries are fairly busy most weeks and they are not willing to take on and build a case at such short notice.

Additionally, as well as being denied the opportunity to play in the world’s most prestigious cup competition, the club has also suffered a severe monetary penalty as part of the ruling and incurring the substantial legal costs of an appeal on top of this does not make common sense financially to us.

To compound matters, we have no new evidence to bring to the table at any appeal. The facts of the case are the facts of the case. The episode has again highlighted how flaws in the various FA registration systems make life very difficult for part-time club secretaries at non-league level and we hope that these will be reviewed and addressed.

As a club, we could of course, request an appeal or seek an interim injunction in order to cause maximum inconvenience and disruption to the FA and the remaining clubs in the competition. However, as a club, we are classier than that. We at Grays Athletic have morals, standards and values – qualities that are so lacking in many levels of our “beautiful” game.

So we will accept our unceremonious exit from the competition. I will be contacting the Chairman of March Town United to wish him and his club the very best of luck in the next round.

The club will be requesting a meeting with the new Chief Executive of the FA, not only to discuss the treatment that our club has received from the governing body, but also to discuss ideas on how we feel that the upper echelons of the game can assist clubs at grass roots level going forward. We will let you know the outcome of this.

On behalf of everyone at Grays Athletic, I would like to thank everybody that has sent messages and called people at the club over the past few days. We apologise if we have not managed to respond to you yet. The support we have received from all sections of the non-league family has been overwhelming and really appreciated.

Finally, a big thank you to all of our members, volunteers, supporters, management team and players for their understanding of the situation that the club finds itself in. We have pulled together in the past in circumstances much graver than this and I am getting the sense that we are now even more determined than ever to help the club survive and thrive.

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