Following the removal of Marlow FC from the Berks & Bucks Senior Cup, the club have waited until the appeal process with the Berks & Bucks FA has concluded before making a statement. The statement is as follows:
The club was removed from the competition following a protest by Slough Town regarding Marlow FC fielding two ineligible players in the fixture against Slough Town that Marlow won 1-0. Contrary to reports on social media, Marlow FC had not ‘taken a chance’ hoping not to be caught. The club had not selected three players from the team who were known to be ineligible to play, but fully accepts that two ineligible players were inadvertently fielded in this match.
The Berks & Bucks FA have a ruling that does not permit players to play in any other County’s Senior Cup, although this rule does not appear to be in place for most other County associations.
Marcus Mealing had legitimately played for Marlow FC in an earlier round of the competition and had an uninterrupted registration with the club. However, he was dual registered with Walton Casuals for a short spell and played for them in the Surrey Senior Cup. He could do this as the Surrey county association does not have the same rule as the B&BFA. But, by playing for them in the Surrey Senior Cup it meant that that he became ineligible to represent us despite having played in an earlier round.
Adam Richards signed from Harrow Borough who are affiliated with the Middlesex County FA. We checked that Adam had not played for Harrow in the Middlesex Senior Cup, and we therefore believed he could legitimately play in the competition. However, we subsequently discovered that Harrow have a dual affiliation with the London FA and despite not being a county, they are considered to be so by the FA. As such, the London Cup, in which Adam did play, is considered to be a County Senior Cup.
In response to the protest, Marlow FC have gone to great lengths to fully understand the competition rules. In doing so a significant number of issues and contradictions have been identified with the rules, not least that there are two different sets of rules for the competition published on the County FA website.
Marlow FC have subsequently identified that several other clubs, including both finalists, appear to have also fielded ineligible players in the competition. Having brought this to the attention of the County FA, it was the clubs’ reasonable expectation that these potential transgressions would be investigated, and appropriate action would be taken.
However, the Berks & Bucks FA have chosen not to investigate them on the basis that no protest was submitted within 3 days of the matches taking place. Marlow FC believes that the competition rules do not require a protest to be made and that the County FA has an obligation to uphold the rules for all participants equally.