Town error contributes to Tiptree's woe

AN administrative blunder by Ipswich Town has contributed to Tiptree United being kicked out of the FA Cup and the possibility of them being docked league points.

By Derek Davis

AN administrative blunder by Ipswich Town has contributed to Tiptree United being kicked out of the FA Cup and the possibility of them being docked league points.

A similar mistake by fellow Football League side Northampton Town also played a part in the Essex club's dismissal after it was discovered they had fielded two ineligible players this season.

Ian Nimmo was released by Ipswich Town's Academy in July, and Jamie Arlick left the Cobblers at the same time but neither club cancelled their scholarship contracts - so they were still registered as their players.

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The irregularities came to light late last week when the Jam-makers went to put them under contract and sent the forms into the FA, who discovered that Nimmo was still officially an Ipswich player and Arlick a Northampton player.

Tiptree's FA Cup tie at Brentwood was cancelled as an investigation took place and the club appeared at the FA headquarters yesterday lunch-time to plead their case - but they were removed from the competition and London ASPA, who had lost to Tiptree, were re-instated.

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Tiptree United club secretary John Wisbey last night spoke of the devastation felt at Chapel Road.

He said: “We had a good and fair hearing but this is the world famous FA Cup and they pointed our that rules are rules.

“Although everyone was looking for a way for us not to be kicked out it was not possible.

“We are all devastated. We have not knowingly done anything wrong and it was only because we were trying to do the right thing that this all came out.

“The players are distraught but it is not their fault in the slightest.”

Despite a statement from Ipswich Town secretary Sally Webb, and supporting letters from other clubs, the FA sub-committee at Soho Square stuck to the punishment laid down.

Wisbey added: “We want to thank Sally and the other clubs who tried to help.

“Sally put her hands up and said there had been an administrative error at her end and she wrote a letter to the FA pointing that out, so we are grateful to her for that.”

An Ipswich Town spokesman last night said: “Ian Nimmo had his scholarship extended due to injury, therefore the end date of his scholarship was noted by the FA as February 2008. However, he was informed by Ipswich Town early in 2007 that he would not be offered a professional contract and elected to attend trials at other clubs to maximise his chances of securing a professional contract elsewhere.

“He was given written permission to trial and, as he was not offered a professional contract by another club, the need to cancel the registration did not arise.

“There are a number of professional bodies involved in the registration process of scholars and due to Ian playing as a non-contract player at below Football League level, this technical error was not flagged up until Tiptree wished to give him a contract which needed to be registered with the FA.”

The fear for Tiptree now is that the Ridgeons League table-toppers will be docked points and they will now be kicked out of the FA Vase and the Essex Senior Cup, where they also beat London APSA.

Wisbey said: “We will find out about the FA Vase today (Tuesday) and we are in constant dialogue with the Ridgeons league who have been brilliant but there is a danger that we will be docked points.

“It is a travesty for the lads who will be punished for something we were completely oblivious too.

“The sad thing is there will be a number of players playing on Saturday who are in a similar situation but because they are non-contract it won't come to light.

“There should be a system on the internet where club secretaries can check the status of player registration and contract situations.”

Being kicked out of all three cup competitions could also have a financial implication for the Essex side that could cost them thousands in lost revenue.

It is possible that both Ipswich Town and Northampton Town will play pre-season friendlies at Chapel Road next year.

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