Football club calls for change in rules

AN Ipswich-based football club is calling for the Football Association to tighten up the 'seven-day approach' rule after falling foul of the regulations.

By Elvin King

AN Ipswich-based football club is calling for the Football Association to tighten up the 'seven-day approach' rule after falling foul of the regulations.

Bramford Road Old Boys were deducted four points for illegally using Ben Hammond in a Metaltec SIL Division Two game.

BROB say that they were unaware that Hammond was also on the books of Ridgeons League Woodbridge Town, which made him ineligible for their 2-2 draw against AFC Hoxne on April 21.

The ruling could have cost BROB promotion as they missed out on 're-playing' their match against Wenhaston that could have seen them end up in a top two position.

Hammond played briefly for Bury Town in the Border League for their reserve side last season.

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“He came back and we obtained Division Five status for him, which made him eligible to play,” said BROB first team manager Lenny Godbold.

“During this time, Woodbridge allegedly approached him, but there is no knowledge of them sending us a seven-day approach.

“As we had no inkling that Ben had signed for Woodbridge - and he was under the impression he could also play for us - we felt we had the right of appeal when we were docked points.

“This was denied by the SIL, but at a Suffolk FA hearing we won that right back.

“However, the SIL stuck rigidly to their ruling and no mitigating circumstances were allowed to sway the verdict.”

An angry Godbold went on: “It appears that a number of senior clubs - and I am not picking out Woodbridge - view junior clubs as a hunting ground for new players and try to entice them away without a thought of a seven-day approach.

“Suffolk FA could play a part and remind clubs it is an FA rule that seven-day approaches should be enforced regardless if it's the same league or not.”

SIL official David Mayes said: “Ben Hammond played one SIL match for BROB prior to April 1, but also registered at Step 5 level with Woodbridge Town where he played three times in the Ridgeons Reserve Division in April before playing for BROB against Hoxne.

“In order to stop teams strengthening up for a late season push for promotion or fight against relegation, the SIL has a rule that a player has to have played a minimum of ten SIL games prior to April 1 to play after that date if he is registered for a team in another Step 7 or higher league.

“Our management committee applied this rule on ineligible players and deducted one point gained against Hoxne and a further three points for the offence.”

Suffolk FA secretary Martin Head said: “The seven-day approach rule is an FA one that we have to follow and has not changed for many years.

“I am not aware of any great demand for change.

“The rule allows clubs who believe a player(s) of theirs has been approached illegally, including by clubs from any other leagues, to report the alleged offending club to the county for investigation

“Several clubs have been punished through use of the rule this season.

“The relevant rule is shown clearly in our handbook, which every club receives.

“It is obviously a club's responsibility to read and understand it. If they are unclear, Suffolk FA will be happy to help.”