No title reprieve for Buntingford
THE DECISION to strip Buntingford Town of the Herts Senior County League title has been upheld. The Herts Senior County League (HSCL) management committee confirmed at a meeting that it would maintain the charge against Buntingford under Football Associat
THE DECISION to strip Buntingford Town of the Herts Senior County League title has been upheld.
The Herts Senior County League (HSCL) management committee confirmed at a meeting that it would maintain the charge against Buntingford under Football Association (FA) player qualification rules.
Buntingford were docked two wins after an investigation revealed they had fielded an ineligible player - believed to be Mildenhall striker Craig Hammond - in two league games last season.
The loss of these points meant Whitewebbs, who finished second, were awarded the title.
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Buntingford FC chairman Richard Daly said: "The club maintain complete confidence that no one at the club knowingly broke any rules - it appears to have been a genuine and unfortunate error.
"The club is not apportioning any culpability to any individual or organisation in this matter.
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"Unfortunately the whole issue highlights the difficulty that so many football clubs often have with the limited voluntary resources available within their committees to ensure that administratively they are always compliant to every minute detail of their leagues, their county association and the FA's rules."
Mr Daly, who took over from former chairman Richard Morris last month said he believed the league and the FA had dealt with the matter "efficiently".
Buntingford refused to name the player involved and will not comment on the actual signing of the contract because the FA is still dealing with the matter.
However, the club believes that at the time of the signing the player had a different understanding of the commitment he was making, leading him to believe that he was not contracted to any club under FA rules.
The club had also been asked to clarify the situation with the FA registrations department in London, and is currently waiting to hear the FA's response.
League general secretary Brian Smith said: "The league committee and representatives from the club met, and on the whole it was a very good meeting.
"We had a lengthy discussion to resolve some of the issues.
"However, rules are rules, and we had no choice but to confirm our initial decision."
Losing the title in this way is a bitter blow for the club, especially as it was the greatest achievement in its 107-year history.
Before the mix-up came to light, manager Paul Attfield described the league triumph as a "fantastic moment for everyone connected with the club" and had said that it was a "fitting way to end a great season".
Mr Daly added: "We suspect that we will have to return the impressive HSCL shield at some stage, but in the eyes of everyone at the club and based on public opinion this feeling is shared by many.
"We are proud of our achievement this season and congratulate all Buntingford Town players and staff who have contributed to another hugely successful season.