Having won the semi final of the Inter-League Cup on 24th March the League was on 4th April, charged with playing an ineligible player, who had been under a contract at any stage during his career, following a protest made by the semi final losers North Riding (they also protested and won having lost in the 1st round). The hearing date was set for 10th April. On 9th April the League was further charged with playing an ineligible player who did not have an International Transfer Certificate (ITC), The second charge was as a result of communications between the English and Irish FA's and had not formed part of the North Riding complaint. At the hearing the charge alleging the player had been under contract was dismissed but the allegation that he did not have an ITC was found proven and the League was removed from the Inter-League Cup. We appealed against the decision but our appeal was dismissed on 16th April, so confirming the earlier FA decision to expel the AFC from the competition and the semi final losers - North Riding have replaced us in the final.
The player played overseas until moving to London in mid-2007 and had played in the AFC every season since then. He also played in the same competition in 2015-16 with no objection. The FIFA regulation requiring him to have an ITC was issued in 2005. It was first published by the FA in July 2011 in the FA Standard Code of Rules. Guidance was first placed on the FA Website in June 2017. We argued that it was not in force in England until first published by the FA in 2011, was not retrospective and so did not apply to the player who had already been playing in England for 4 years by then.
The original hearing and the Appeal Board ruled that an ITC was required under the FIFA Regulations since at least 2005. The player's club should have applied for an ITC in 2007, and if not completed, then it should have been done before he played in the semi final of the Inter League Cup this season.
Player Registration and International Transfer Certificates
There is widespread uncertainty on how exactly this operates within the AFC and the AFA. It has been added to the Agenda of the AFA Governance Rules and Sanctions Committee which meets on Thursday evening 19th April. It should also be reviewed at the next meeting of the AFC Executive Committee and discussed at the AFC AGM, perhaps with further rule changes and guidance. We may need to look at the website.
On behalf of the Rep Team and Officers of the AFC I would like to add my own personal thanks to David Cross, Tony Julien & John Maskell who all gave up their own time to attend both appeal hearings but most of all to Bart O'Toole who not only gave up valuable court time at his own personal expense, but produced a whole raft of documentation and argument that defeated the objection raised by North Riding but was unfortunately defeated with the secondary FA charge - without Bart this would never have been as close as it finally was.
As Arnie said .....................................WE WILL BE BACK !!