When Vics signed goalkeeper Mason Springthorpe on loan at the start of September, the Football Association received permission from his parent club, Telford United, allowing him to appear in the FA Cup. However, in a letter from competitions officer Chris Darnell to Hyde, Northwich, Marine, AFC Blackpool and the Northern Premier League, the FA says it has no record of a loan registration document.
Its absence came to light when Northwich approached the FA yesterday (Friday, October 2) to inquire about Springthorpe’s eligibility for this afternoon’s FA Trophy preliminary round tie in which they drew 1-1 at Lancaster City. The game went ahead with Dane Smith in goal.
Northwich have been charged with a breach of FA Cup rule 15H and their third qualifying round tie at Marine on Saturday, October 10, has been called off until the matter is settled.
Although the issue may seem to be clear-cut, there could be several outcomes. The document might be discovered, or the FA might decide Vics did all in their power that was reasonably possible and allow them to carry on in the competition.
If the FA finds against them, that would bring the first qualifying round tie against AFC Blackpool into question as Springthorpe was ineligible for that match too. Northwich might be ordered to take part in a replay, or, if dismissed from the competition, Hyde might have to face AFC Blackpool at Ewen Fields for the right to meet Marine. But both these outcomes would play havoc with the FA Cup’s fixture schedules.
Under rule 25, the FA could put Hyde through but AFC Blackpool would be allowed to claim the £3,000 prize money from the first qualifying round tie.
The outcome ought to be known by Tuesday evening depending on Northwich’s actions. They could leave the matter to an FA sub-committee, in which case it will be dealt with at 9am on Monday, or they could demand a personal hearing which would be held at Wembley at noon on Tuesday.
Hyde United declined to make any statement, saying they were unable to comment on speculation.
Northwich Victoria issued the following earlier today: “The football club were informed late Friday afternoon, October 2, 2015, by the Football Association of the need to investigate the chronological order of events relating to the registration of a player having taken part in this season’s FA Cup competition’s previous two qualifying rounds.
“We are co-operating fully with the FA’s investigation but feel it would be wrong to comment further on the matter until the investigation is complete. There will be a further statement in due course.
“The club remains fully focused on our FA Trophy tie away v Lancaster City on Saturday, October 3, with the FA Trophy a competition that we have a long and proud history and association with.”