Warning fired about small-sided games

LOCAL SOCCER: A warning has gone out today of the dangers caused by some small-sided games in the Ipswich area.Not all clubs playing at somewhere like the Thurleston Indoor Stadium appear answerable to the Football Association.

By Elvin King

LOCAL SOCCER

A WARNING has gone out today of the dangers caused by some small-sided games in the Ipswich area.

Not all clubs playing at somewhere like the Thurleston Indoor Stadium appear answerable to the Football Association.

This has led to one Licensed Trades League club, Selkirk 96, being forced to 'replay' a game – and a player receiving a life ban and a £40 fine.

Selkirk 96 official Jan Mitchell is also assistant secretary of the LTL. "It has proved to be very embarrassing," she said today. "And I would like to make all bona-fide clubs aware of the dangers."

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Mrs Mitchell's club was found to have innocently played someone in their opening 2002/03 fixture who was suspended sine-die. They won the match but have been told by the LTL to replay it.

Explaining the situation, Mrs Mitchell said: "One of our players, who prefers to remain anonymous, was sent off in April playing for a side called Selkirk in a five-a-side league game at Thurleston Indoor Stadium.

"He heard nothing and asked me in May if I had received any correspondence. He asked me again in July, and come September neither of us had heard anything from the county.

"There was no reason to suggest we should not play him, but his name was picked up by the league from the team sheet after our first game.

"It is was in a letter from the LTL that we received information that the player was under suspension.

"I telephoned Suffolk FA disciplinary Gary Steed to find out what was going on. It was a shock to be told that his letters to the secretary of Selkirk, who have no connection to my club, had not been answered.

"Consequently, the matter had gone to a commission, nobody turned up from the club and Selkirk's registered players were all suspended sine-die.

"I then contacted Thurleston Centre to find out the address of the Selkirk secretary and was told the club had folded and were not playing any more. I now understand they are still playing five-a-side football still under a different name."

The player concerned, who was originally given a 35-day ban that he knew nothing about, will now serve his seven-week suspension and pay his fine. He should then be eligible to have his sine die ban removed and will be able play again.

"He has been punished too much and it is unfair on him – and on us," added Mrs Mitchell. "He held his hands up and admitted he was wrong and was ready to serve his punishment.

"This opens a whole new can of worms, and moves must be made to ensure that clubs who play in small-sided leagues all come under the same jurisdiction as outdoor league within Suffolk.

"How many other players from Selkirk are still playing Saturday or Sunday football?"

Neil Schofield is assistant manager of Thurleston Indoor Stadium. He confirmed that around 35 five-a-side league games are played at the centre each week.

"Gary Steed gets an affiliation list and the addresses and telephone numbers of each team captain," he said. "And a qualified referee William McAtamney takes charge of the matches."

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