Evo-Stik Northern Premier League Witton Albion will not appeal against a three point deduction for playing an ineligible player.
The promotion-chasers confirmed on Tuesday morning that they would not appeal against the sanction and minimum £100 fine levied for playing Tolani Omatola in EVO-STIK NPL First Division South at Stocksbridge Park Steels on Saturday 12 February.
As a youth loan player from Tranmere Rovers, Omatola should be re-registered with both the Football Association and Northern Premier League every month.
Although correctly re-registered in previous months, the required written acknowledgement from the FA and EVO-STIK NPL was not obtained before the match took place, breaching FA Rule 6.4.1.
As a result, the club was subsequently charged on 24 March under FA standardised Rule 6.9 for fielding an ineligible player and provided written observations after pleading guilty.
Despite the administrative error emerging within 24 hours of being made, the mistake led to the club “reluctantly” accepting the decision of their former secretary to resign after she took responsibility for the mistake.
Having been notified of the decision by the EVO-STIK NPL’s disciplinary panel on Wednesday 12 April, Witton Albion chairman Mark Harris told fans they decided to wait until after their Easter games against Stamford and Northwich before making a public statement to avoid distracting manager Carl Macaulay and his squad.
Harris, also the chairman of the EVO-STIK NPL, said: “The deduction is obviously a blow to everyone at the club and the board would like to wholeheartedly apologise to the players and supporters. Football administration is an increasingly challenging job in which mistakes are punished, especially at this level, and this situation shows what happens when errors arise.
“We play by the same rules as every other club so we have to take the penalties on the chin although we are all frustrated that it takes so long for these cases to be settled. However, we cannot allow this setback to define what has been an excellent season which may still end with promotion.
“With that in mind the club has obtained approval from the Northern Premier League to offer free admission to all fans for Saturday’s game against Sheffield. We hope that this will encourage as many local people as possible to roar the team on and set things up for the play-off semi-final on Tuesday.”