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Witton Albion admit charge of fielding ineligible player, so face expulsion from Doodson Sport Cup
WITTON could be kicked out of the Doodson Sport Cup after picking an ineligible player in their fourth round success against FC United of Manchester.
The club was charged yesterday by the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League after Curzon Ashton – conquered 4-0 by Albion in the last eight on Wednesday – protested that Michael Powell had played for them earlier in the competition.
Witton, after admitting their culpability, now await a punishment that could include a fine alongside expulsion from the tournament.
“It’s a genuine mistake, but also a serious one,” said Albion chairman Mark Harris.
“The rule is clear, and we owned up to breaking it as soon as we were charged.
“We are more than likely now to be discarded from the competition, and we will accept whatever sanctions the league’s cups committee chooses to apply.”
The competition’s rules state that it is the responsibility of member clubs, not the league, to report a suspected rule-break within 48 hours of the final whistle of a game in which they believe an infringement has happened.
Powell, then on loan to Curzon Ashton from Chester, was in the starting line-up for the Tameside club when they won at Lancaster in the first round back in November.
He signed for Witton last month, scoring in their 4-3 win at home to FC United.
However it was only when his name appeared on the team sheet on Wednesday, when Witton played Curzon, that the hosts pointed out his previous involvement with them.
Albion boss Brian Pritchard subsequently left out the 27-year-old before the tie took place after the home team sought advice from the league.
Harris added: “If we had not gone ahead, then that would have left us exposed to a more serious charge of failing to fulfil a fixture.
“We failed to make a basic check, which makes the episode an embarrassing one for Witton Albion Football Club.
“When you screw up, it’s important to admit it and then apologise. I have telephoned [FC United of Manchester’s general manager] Andy Walsh to say sorry.
“I will say the same to our own supporters, as well as the competition’s sponsors.”
The league made public the draw for the semi finals yesterday, Thursday, which included both Curzon Ashton and Witton.
One of those will travel to Matlock next month in the last four.
A league official confirmed on Saturday that the competition's cups committee would decide Witton's punishment on Monday.