It seems that Southend’s 2-1 victory against us last month might yet go our way because today the Shrimpers have been charged with fielding an ineligible player against us.
An EFL report states that Sol Campbell’s side have been charged with failing to pay their players, but crucially there is this little line in there too: “The Commission will also hear an additional charge relating to the fielding of an ineligible player in the Sky Bet League One match against Lincoln City FC on 1 February 2020.”
If proven, this is likely to result in them being fined and having the points taken from them, in accordance with EFL rules. Whether it would benefit us is another thing entirely, as the rules are open to discretion by the EFL. The full ruling states: “Any Club found to have played an ineligible player in a match or matches shall have any points gained from that match or matches deducted from its record, up to a maximum of 12 points, and have levied upon it a fine.
“The Management Committee may also order that such match or matches be replayed on such terms as are decided by the Management Committee which may also levy penalty points against the Club in default. The Management Committee may vary this decision in respect of the points gained only in circumstances where the ineligibility is due to the failure to obtain an International Transfer Certificate or where the ineligibility is related to the Player’s status.
“In exceptional circumstances the Management Committee may, at its discretion, award the points available in the match in question to the opponents, subject to the match not being ordered to be replayed.”
Essentially, even if they are found to have had an ineligible player, it is unlikely we’d be awarded the points unless there were ‘exceptional circumstances’. We could face a replay, but I would imagine few supporters would want to repeat that afternoon, whether Southend had an ineligible player or not.
Much will rest on the severity of the crime I guess. If the players was a key man who started, such as Charlie Kelman or Elvis Bwomono the goalscorers, then there would be a possibility of something coming back our way as a form of recompense. However, if it was Miles Mitchell-Nelson who got ten minutes, or Kenny Coker who got one minute (which is likely), then the likelihood is they’d get a points deduction or fine, but we’d see little benefit. Let’s be honest, we deserved nothing from the game, so getting anything for them having one ineligible player wouldn’t really be entirely fair.
That said if it got to the final day of the season and we needed a point to stay up, but having this game replayed would make us safe (which won’t happen) I imagine I’d feel very differently.