Manchester City ladies have been cleared of playing an ineligible player with FA releasing a statement explaining their decision not to punish the Citizens.
It had been claimed that City fielded an ineligible player against Sunderland in the FAWSL Continental Cup game and the outcome does not make for great reading with either the FA losing the player’s registration or a cover up seemingly in place.
If the charge had been proven then a number of games would have been called into question, including league games with points having to be deducted in addition to their removal from the Continental Cup – a decision that would impact Arsenal as they played City on Thursday night in the quarter finals of the competition. Arsenal ended up winning the game 1-0, but would have felt very hard done by had City been successful.
The FA statement said “Having considered all the evidence and on the basis of written and oral submissions, The FA Women’s Super League Management Committee was not able to satisfy itself that the Registration Form had not been received in the offices of The Football Association.
“It was significant in the opinion of the Management Committee, that whilst the Registration Form could not be located and had not been processed, that written confirmation from The FA, in the form of email, had been received by Manchester City Women FC.”
So the FA cannot say whether or not they received the registration papers or not.
The FA also said that an email had been sent to City to acknowledge reception of the registration form but the form was lost and not processed. Therefore, the player was not registered, so it would seem quite clear.
Did the FA really confirm to City that the player was registered before they even processed the registration? This is just cutting corners and looks shambolic.
It does not make sense to send an email to someone saying ‘job done’ before the job is actually done.
The icing on the cake is the final paragraph of the statement:
“This stated that the player, Kiera Walsh, had been registered prior to the match that was the subject of the charge taking place. In the light of the email and the overall course of events in this matter, it was the majority decision of the FA WSL Management Committee that the Rules of the FA WSL had not been broken in respect of the registration of Kiera Walsh.”
We have been told the vote was not unanimous and some members of the committee found the charge proven.
Manchester City brought their QC to the hearing and managed to sway the vote their way and were therefore allowed to carry on in the Continental Cup.
The written reasons leave the FA open to a lot of criticism how badly they handles the whole process and you really have to wonder how, and why, the committee members found the charge not proven as the registration was not processed.
You also have to wonder about the email that was sent to City which is the basis of the non-proven charge, who sent it and why?
Was it even actually sent?
The FA certainly has a lot of questions still to answer.
However, as the Gunners prevailed, you imagine this will now quietly become water under the bridge.