Southport Football Club can confirm this eveningthat we have been sanctioned by the National League for failure to play our match -v- Curzon Ashton on Tuesday 16th February 2021.
The sanction letter reads as follows;
Following full consideration of all written submissions, the Panel finds the club guilty of the breach of Rule 8.39.
Given the extremely unusual circumstances that have affected football at all levels and the financial pressures the absence of spectators has brought to bear on clubs, the Panel expressed its sympathy with the club’s predicament. However, the Panel believes it must also take regard of the fact that the majority of clubs continued to fulfil fixtures and incur match costs until the League ended on 19th February. The Panel is reluctant to impose a significant financial penalty in line with the Standard Fines Tariff. The Panel noted the guidance in the Standard Fines Tariff of Appendix N to the League Rules, which ranged between £2500 to £10,000. However, the Panel also noted that by failing to fulfil the fixture, the club will have saved a substantial part of the match costs.
The Panel noted the possible sanctions which may be applied for a breach of Rule 8.39 which ranged from expulsion from the competition as a whole, the deduction of up to a maximum of three points from the club’s record and a fine.
The Panel considered the possible sanctions and unanimously agreed that in the current situation expulsion would not be appropriate and points deduction would be meaningless.
The Panel considered a fine of £2500 this breach but taking into account the current situation reduced this fine to £2000.
The decision of the Panel is that the club is fined a total of £2000. In addition, two points are to be deducted from the club’s record for each breach, however the points deduction is suspended and would only be imposed along with any other sanction imposed, in the event the club is found guilty of a breach of Rule 8.39 in season 2021/22.
In accordance with League Rule 16.4 the club have the right to appeal this decision to the FA”
It is the understanding of the Club that the standard of fine of £2000 per match not played has been imposed across the two divisions meaning that some clubs have been fined £8000!
We will now engage with the fellow clubs who have been sanctioned and look to a joint appeal to the Football Association.
We would like to express our shock and disgust at this decision to punish Southport FC, and other National League North and South clubs, for trying to keep our players, staff and volunteers alive and healthy during this pandemic that has claimed the lives of so many people. We made our concerns known as regards continuing to play without testing. The National League seemingly agreed with this concern in that finally testing was made available, although this came after the season was, for us, curtailed. We were not provided with any tests for this game against Curzon. We took the decision that the lives of everybody involved with the club were more important than this individual game.
The league have stated in their decision letter:
“ However, the Panel also noted that by failing to fulfil the fixture, the club will have saved a substantial part of the match costs”
Adversely they have overlooked the financial implications suffered by clubs for playing matches in January when funding that was secured in “good faith” by the league failed to materialise.
It is hugely disappointing that at a time when the clubs have had no income of their own whatsoever for over 12 months, and a number of clubs are clearly struggling to survive, the National League have seen fit to effectively “put the boot in” by imposing financial sanctions for games that are of no relevance at all as they have been deemed “null and void”.
We will be appealing to the FA in respect of their finding in relation to the Fylde game. The game was due to take place on the Monday. It was postponed due to notification, in line with guidelines, of two players exhibiting COVID symptoms. We then received the unprecedented demand that the game should be played 48 hours later, despite our request for a 7 day postponement. We had not received the test results 48 hours later, and were not prepared to put our squad at risk until the results of those tests were known. No explanation has been offered by the National League as to why we received a demand to play the postponed game 48 hours later. No explanation has been given as to why the game could not be played 7 days later. It is to be borne in mind that the usual rules indicate that postponed games are to be rearranged and replayed within 42 days of the postponement
We provided evidence of the players two test receipts. Unfortunately only one test result was returned by the NHS after the forced rearranged date.
The alternative would have been to play the match with the results of players test unknown.
This decision will be appealed.