League One side Hartlepool United are facing a points deduction after they fielded an ineligible player on Easter Monday. Central defender Gary Liddle played a full 90 minutes in their 2-0 home win over Brighton and Hove Albion. However, he had picked up his 10th booking of the season in the Easter Saturday match against Leyton Orient, and so should have commenced a two match ban on the Monday.
Hartlepool have been charged by the Football Association for fielding the player, and Liddle himself has also been issued with similar charges. Pools have until April 26th to respond to the charges, meaning that they may not know their fate until just two games are left in the 2009-10 season. The club released a statement saying:
"As soon as the error was realised the club contacted the FA immediately and they served two charges, one to the club and one to Gary Liddle. The club has been given until April 26 to respond to the charges."
Punishment for clubs fielding ineligible players has historically been a points deduction for all of the points earned during the period when the player was fielded. With Hartlepool in 17th place in the League One table, a points deduction of the three that they won during that match would send them down to 19th place, but more crucially just one point off the relegation zone.
An alternative for the Football Association is to merely fine the club, but with Brighton occupying 15th spot and still in need of a couple of points for League One safety, and a host of other clubs bunched up just above the relegation line, Hartlepool's rivals will inevitably point out that Liddle's inclusion in a match that gave them a win and a clean sheet over a team close to them in the table will have unfairly influenced the outcome of the game. If the FA opt to just fine them for their transgression, then it could encourage other clubs to take the financial hit at critical games of the season, knowing that such decisions could keep their club in a division, or win them promotion. As such, a points deduction is the only real fair outcome.
Link: Latest 2009-10 League One Table.
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