Imps Expelled From County Cup Competition

The saying ‘we can now concentrate on the league’ is usually saved for when you’re knocked out of a cup, but today, City were forcibly removed from one that never distracted from League One at all. 

After beating Boston in the County Cup a couple of weeks ago, it looked like we might be on the silverware trail, but alas, that dream has now ended, and our nine-year ‘wait’ for success will go on a little longer. Why? We’ve broken County Senior Cup Rule 11 according to the Lincolnshire FA, meaning the Pilgrims will get a stab at the semi-final instead. With Grimsby out, no Football League team will lift it this year.

‘But why?’ I hear you ask, heartbroken that a mouthwatering possible final against National League North Scunthorpe has been spoiled. Well…..

The assumption is that it has everything to do with the number of trialists we fielded. That in itself isn’t a problem – there’s a form on the Lincs FA website that allows the registration of trialists for such games. Free agent Kallum Cesay would almost certainly have been fine to appear for the Imps.

However, rule 11 does state that ‘any club deemed guilty of playing an illegible player shall be struck out of the competition,’ which means there was an issue. My guess (and given I was almost told as much by a club contact the day after the game, almost certainly a fact) is the issue relates to a couple of other players we trialled, namely Divine Izekor and Gbemi Arubi. Why are they different?

Well, you can blame Brexit (woop lefties). Thanks to the (ill-informed) decision made by a (very) small margin back in 2016, we can no longer just sign players from Ireland. They’re classed as needing international clearance. Izekor and Arubi almost certainly needed international clearance to feature against Boston, something I suspect we did not get.

Why play them? I imagine the County Cup is seen very much as a friendly game, a training exercise that shouldn’t get in the way of competitive stuff like League One. However, it is a game with something a stake, unlike a behind-closed-doors game against someone, and in that situation, players do react a little differently. I imagine we wanted to see what the players were like in a ‘competitive’ environment, and took the hit.

In my opinion, there will be no surprise here. It won’t be poor administration. I suspect (and I don’t know) that we played the players and hoped to just plead our way out of it, which we haven’t done. A bit like a teenager asking for forgiveness the morning after siphoning off half their Dad’s vodka, replacing it with water, and going on a bender down the park.

Still, the wait goes on for County Cup success.

Oh well.

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