Southport FC win one of two National League appeals

Southport FC have won an appeal against the National League over “misleading” the league on the covid status of players but have lost a second over failing to fulfil fixtures.

Southport was one of eleven clubs that appealed against punishment handed down by the National League for failing to fulfil fixtures during the coronavirus pandemic.

The eleven clubs, including Southport, have been ordered to pay costs (£1,200-£1,600 per club) and their appeal fee (£250) will not be returned, but the club will be refunded £1,200 for its successful appeal.

Two seperate fines of £2,000 were levied against the Sandgrounders by an independent panel. Southport were also handed a two points deduction, suspended pending any further regulation breaches, meaning the club were fined a total of £4,000.

The first charge (which the club have lost) related to the club’s refusal to play a game against Curzon Ashton, with the second (which has been successfully appealed) for allegedly misleading the National League over the coronavirus status of David Morgan to cause a cancellation of a game against Fylde.

The decision against failing to fulfil the fixture against Curzon says that: “The Club did not place before the Panel any real evidence to show that the protocols in place presented a serious safety issue. The protocols had been approved by Government and The FA on medical advice. The Club had played under the protocols since the beginning of the season. In the absence of proper evidence the Panel was entitled to reject that assertion.

However, a decision that the club had misled the league over the covid status of David Morgan has been overturned.

The club maintain their decision stemmed from David Morgan not receiving coronavirus test results in an expected timeframe, and had not received results by the time the game was to be played, which the League disputed.

The decision reads: “We do not consider it was reasonably entitled to find the charge to be made out. Further the Panel does not appear to have reminded itself of the principle that the more serious the allegation the more cogent the evidence that would be required from the League to prove its case. 

The Appeal Board finds that the Decision was such that no reasonable body could have come to it and the appeal is therefore allowed.For the reasons set out the Decision is set aside and the appeal is allowed. The League is ordered to pay the costs of the Appeal Board in the sum of £1200 within 30 days of this decision.

 

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