After announcing that Burnham had fielded an ineligible player in Usman Lulastani in the semi finals of the Bluefin Sports Hellenic League Supplementary Cup, our further research has revealed that in fact three of the four semi finalists fielded ineligible players.
Ascot United, Burnham and Highworth Town all played a player in the Supplementary Cup who had previously played for another club in the Bluefin Sports Hellenic League Challenge Cup.
The Yellamen played Barry Dunbar who had previously played for Burnham, the Blues played Lulastani and Colin Mugoya (previously Bracknell Town) and Highworth Town fielded Joshua Langley.
Cup options? Give it to Flackwell Heath
With that in mind, we can’t really see an option beyond awarding the cup to Flackwell Heath (who earned the right to be in the final) or for the cup to be scrapped this season, though the latter seems very harsh on Flackwell – we’d certainly favour them being awarded the cup.
Burnham secretary Gary Reeves believes the Hellenic League needs to address the rule whilst also admitting their mistake. In his full interview with the Slough Observer, Reeves also argues “it is difficult for secretaries to get clarification as the rules stands.”
In the Maidenhead Advertiser, Burnham manager Paul Shone and Flackwell manager Marcus Richardson both hit out at the Hellenic League with Shone saying “the rules are not very black and white on this.”
Richardson added: “We could easily get given this cup for making no effort at all in the final. If we were to win I’d like to do it in the right way.”
We are yet to see any reaction from either Highworth Town or Ascot United both on their own websites or social media accounts or from the local press but there’s every chance that Ascot are not even aware of the matter.
The Hellenic League rule in question
Despite what the clubs are saying, the rules are very clear as this excerpt from the rules states:
All players eligible to play for a Club in League Matches shall be eligible to play in The Hellenic League Challenge Cup Competition and The Hellenic League Supplementary Cup Competition, providing his registration form has been received and accepted by the Registration Secretary in accordance with Competition Rule 6.4.
No player shall be allowed to play for more than one competing club in either competition in any one season.
This isn’t the Hellenic League’s issue
As a former secretary of a Hellenic League club, you make yourself familiar with the rules for ALL competitions your club competes in, especially concerning player qualification.
The rule concerning the Challenge Cup and Supplementary Cup player qualification is actually very clear so I fail to see why people are blaming the Hellenic League.
We never fell foul of any player qualification issues during my years as a club secretary and certain other local secretaries to me also exercise due diligence when transferring or registering new players.
Yes, the Hellenic League could maybe have picked up the issues quicker but the FA and various footballing leagues are always very clear – the onus is on the clubs.
While I am in no way suggesting any of the clubs involved intentionally played ineligible players, the majority of the Hellenic League clubs followed the rules which are actually very clear despite the involved clubs claiming it isn’t.
The mistakes have happened but stop blaming the Hellenic League and accept the wrongdoing.