Considering the amount of bad press that the Football Association receives (not least from me), it is with some considerable surprise that I can report that the outcome of AFC Wimbledon’s appeal against their eighteen point deduction by the Ryman League is in, and common sense has prevailed. The FA concluded that the the fine was excessive, considering the unusual circumstances that had surrounded the case, and the points deduction has been reduced from eighteen points to three. Official confirmation of this can be found here.
So, firstly and foremostly, congratulations to everybody at Kingsmeadow. The club has carried itself with the utmost dignity throughout the whole saga, and the organisation that they have shown since the decision was made earlier this year should act as an example to others. Secondly, the FA are to be applauded for making an entirely sensible decision. It was clear to anybody that looked at the circumstances surrounding the case that the initial punishment was disproportionate to the point of being farcical, but anyone that knows the way that organisations like the FA work will be fully aware that for them to over-rule a decision already made by a league under its jurisdiction is high unusual.
There will doubtless be complaints that they have used their high profile to influence the FA’s decision, but this is a hollow argument. Clubs of all sizes are entitled to do whatever they feel necessary to try and get decisions made against them over-turned. This even happens in the case of suspensions for sendings off over which there is no question of guilt. AFCW have applied pressure where they felt it appropriate, and have sought support from elsewhere within the game as well as outside of it. The strength of feeling over the matter can be seen by the 9,000 signatures on the online petition regarding the matter, and the large number of MPs that signed the Early Day Motion supporting them. Their appeal was the right thing to do, and the result (a slap on the wrists and a nominal fine) is a common sense result that should act a deterrent to clubs seeking to deliberately break the international clearance rules, whilst maintaining a sense of proportion.
Ironically, the decision coincides with something of a collapse in their form. A 2-0 defeat at Hampton & Richmond Borough made it just one win in their last five matches, and they’ve slumped to fifth place in the Ryman League table. With three points separating them from leaders Chelmsford City (not including the three point deduction), the three points that they have lost may yet prove to expensive. They’ll be hoping to get back on track at Leyton tomorrow night, but their initial aim needs to be to consolidate their place in the play-offs. Should I be able to get up there for their league match against Slough Town on Saturday, there’ll be a full report on here next Sunday.
I’m on a late shift this week, so hopefully more to follow later tonight.