'We did not cheat': Ilford FC boss Peek on fielding ineligible player
- Credit: Terry Gilbert
Ilford manager Adam Peek stated his innocence when it came to fielding an ineligible player due to international clearance, which has seen his side eventually crash out of the FA Cup.
The Foxes beat Barking in the preliminary round but the tie had to be replayed after an investigation into an unnamed player - the Blues came out on top second time around with a 3-2 victory.
Peek was keen to share his side of the story: “When we registered this player we checked with his first club in England that he registered for in 2018 to see if they had obtained international clearance and we supplied messages from this club to the FA that they had confirmed they did gain international clearance for him and he was cleared to play for them.
“As per the FA guidelines on international clearance, we did our history checks on the player which showed he has played for two teams in England before us, in two separate leagues and including FA competitions.
“The whole game does not show anything to do with international clearance so there is no way of checking without writing to the FA.
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“When it was checked by the FA, they said he has not had international clearance from the club that told us he had and although he has played for two teams and in one of their competitions, we were told this player is ineligible.
“We contested on the grounds of the evidence we submitted and were not charged by the registrations department at the FA."
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He then read out a statement he said was from The FA summary, which said the club "provided strong mitigating circumstances", and although The FA is "satisfied a breach has occurred, the player status team is minded to warn the club and not proceed with any further action".
The statement continued: "We would recommend the club continue to make the vigilant checks it makes with the players, but also that it contacts the player status team for verification on clearance for any future occasions they seek to register a foreign national and/or a player who has previously registered for a club in another association."
Peek added: “FA registrations were satisfied that we had done a reasonable amount of checks to ensure from our understanding the player wasn't ineligible.
“When it came to the FA competitions board, they again were satisfied that we had provided enough mitigation and had done reasonable checks that lead us to have no reason to believe that this player was ineligible.
“I would like to point out I have been chairman for over a year and since then we are a club who follows the international clearance process including having already gained three this season for players who play for the team.
“We have done what any club would have done in this situation."
He said - "in the view of fairness and consistency" - he asked the FA to audit all players in the competition to verify international clearance but claimed his request was refused because of "lack of manpower".
“We are still disappointed in how the FA treat and deal with the international clearance rule, but I will be writing to them with my views to help other clubs not get into situations," Peek added.
“We stand that we have not cheated or intentionally breached rules. You have to ask how many players out there are playing without international clearance and clubs have done no checks meaning that the integrity of the competition is at risk due to the gaps in the registration process that clubs can avoid or not be truthful.
“Once the decision of a replay was made, unfortunately we had no grounds for appeal even when we raised other breaches of competition rules.
“I will be writing to the FA to contest a number of these points and if necessary, the club will be seeking legal advice and guidance.”