This week Met Police had their transfer of Division appeal turned down by the F.A but before putting the matter to bed Chairman Des Flanders informed supporters of the clubs of the lengths that he and his team went to in the hope of getting the decision reversed.
We have now had a few days to dwell on the rejection of our appeal against being subject to a lateral transfer to Step 3 in the Southern League. I make this statement to help the people who support us understand the efforts we have made to convince the authorities that their decision was ill judged and to illustrate the arguments we have brought forward in the endeavour to persuade them to change their minds.
We presented what we considered to be a well thought out case taking account of the task that FA officials were given to bring forward proposals for the new pyramid structure, even though I was prevented personally from being present by the FA changing the proposed date of the hearing.
Part of our case was predicated on a well established principle at work within British law – that of fairness. The Chairman of the Alliance Committee, whose role it is to approve the proposals put forward by FA staff, is an individual who has been with a club in a number of guises for well over thirty years. His club was relegated from National League South and consequently fell into the pool of clubs to be reallocated. We do not understand how the Chairman of the appeal hearing could possibly have considered it fair for a person so intrinsically involved, through his club, to have carried on with having any responsibility for the allocations determined by the Alliance Committee of which he is the lead member. Needless to say his club, although situated more than 20 miles to the West of ourselves, did not come into consideration for a move to the Southern League. According to the feedback we have received, the Chairman of the appeal takes the view that, because it was thought that the Alliance Chairman made no comment on the day that matters were decided, there was no unfairness. Why would you want to say anything in the circumstances? These matters should not only be treated fairly but be seen to be fair.
Where people of influence have an interest in the outcome of a matter, that interest should be declared. This was not done and is rank bad practice and unfair.
1. ‘Club focused to reduce travel time, distance, cost and midweek fixtures’
2. ‘Independent and Transparent Selection Process’
These are two statements lifted directly from the powerpoint presentation made to all clubs at League meetings by the FA officials and were sold as their abiding aims. They were available and made known to the appeal panel.
In our case travelling increases by 23.5% for 21 away matches by comparison with 23 away matches last season. Coach travel will rise by 50%. We have lost our sponsor because their business is London based. So it would seem to us that the FA team have failed on 3 out of 4 of the aims set out at 1 above. But they have succeeded in the fourth because, of course, there are now 4 less fixtures to be played over the same amount of weeks which predictably will reduce the number of midweek games.
As to item 2, I have already highlighted the lack of independence in the Committee process. As for transparency – when we asked for details of how the decision was reached we were refused any information and had to bat blindfold in the hope that we guessed some of the methodology used.
We are left to conclude that half a dozen fans could have worked this out on the back of a fag packet one Friday evening down the pub.
Now just to rub salt in the wound, following the sad demise of Shaw Lane, Banbury are to be moved to the Southern Central Division to allow for Wimborne to be added to Southern South.
As part of our appeal we offered a number of alternatives which would have resulted in both ourselves and Walton Casuals (who gained a genuine promotion) remaining in the Isthmian. Our proposals would have allowed Wimborne and Banbury to remain in what looks the most appropriate league for those clubs. For instance, why have Bishops Stortford remained in the Isthmian when they are situated as the far North outpost of that league and well within striking distance for the Southern Central. This is only one example but, of course there are reputations at stake with the FA exposed yet again as being inflexible, flawed and holding the line at all costs.
We wish Hednesford good luck with their appeal following their allocation to the Northern but sadly there is nothing to show that they have even an outside chance of a sensible outcome.
We will of course go forward into the Southern League to represent ourselves and the League with pride and dignity but with sadness at being cast from the Isthmian in this way after more than 40 continuous years as members.
Met Police will now focus on life in the Southern League South Division when the Season restarts in August and have started preparation for that by making 4 impressive new signings. Jack Beadle, Jack Mazzone, Alex Fisher and Max Blackmore are now onboard so maybe things are not as bad as it seems!
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