By Tony Attwood
It has been clear since the earliest days of its existence that the FA is run by a bunch of dodos.
But now that assessment looks to be challenged, for it is clearly an insult to dodos. Dodos must have been the cream of the intelligentsia compared to the FA.
What has brought on such a detailed revision in my thinking about the FA is the situation at Enfield Town FC. Enfield are in a battle with the FA over their place in the play offs, and the FA have retreated so far up its own backside it has now taken residence in its own small intestine.
It is a case that reveals a level of incompetence that cannot be believed – incompetence not only from its own officials (we are used to that) but in terms of the way it runs the entire record keeping system concerning players who are suspended because of accumulating cards.
I have delayed writing about the FA and Enfield Town until today because I thought that even the power-made, insane, corrupt and inept FA would have a decision on the Enfield case by now, but no. They have said that after six hours of thinking, making paper aeroplanes and undoubtedly a number of suitable breaks for brandy and coffee the verdict of the FA Appeal panel hearing as been deferred until Monday, due to the complexity of the legal arguments associated with the case.
And do note here before we go any further. The criminal organisation involved in this affair is the FA. And the investigating body is the FA. And the jury that is hearing the issue is the FA. And the person who is going to pronounce judgement is a member of the FA.
Enfield Town (whose web site claims they are the country’s first supporter owned club) are in Division 8, the Isthmian Ryman Premier League, and they finished 5th in the league this past season. It is on a par with the Southern League, that my local team Corby Town won this year, and it feeds into the Conference South.
Or it is supposed to.
As for Enfield (in case you are not a Londoner) it is the extreme north bit of Greater London. It is about nine miles north of the Emirates Stadium.
Any way just before the play offs started the FA decided to knock three points off Enfield’s total for the season for the ancient crime of fielding an ineligible player. (This crime was introduced in the 19th century to stop players moving about from the club to club without filling out the proper forms).
Now the first problem is that this alleged “crime” happened three months before the play offs, so sorting it out just as the game was about to happen was a bit stupid. But it is the FA, so you expect that.
But the ineligible player, Aryan Tajbakhsh, is only ineligible because of a cock up by…. yes, of course, the FA. They made a mistake in recording his bookings through the season. (Apparently they spelled his name in various different ways and so didn’t link up the fact that he is the same man throughout).
Now Enfield, being sensible people (even though their lords and masters, the FA are not) told the the FA that there was an error in its records. Embarrassed (given that this is a bit like telling God that actually due to a mistake in writing things down there were only nine commandments handed to Moses instead of ten) the FA agreed that if Tajbakhsh missed the next two games, all would be ok.
The FA then sent an email to the Ryman League, saying that “no further action” would be taken against the club. And so what did the FA then do a few weeks later?
It charged Enfield with using an ineligible player.
And the reason? That the official who wrote the email did not have the authority to write the email. Enfield were guilty and points were removed. And docked points means no prizes.
What we have to remember is that it was the FA that made the mistake in not recording the details properly, the FA that made the decision, the FA that were told by Enfield about the mistake, the FA that agreed to the two games missed and the FA that are now cocking this all up by changing their minds.
So every single little error comes from the FA.
And who is going to suffer?
Most certainly not the FA.
But there is another point that comes out of this. Everyone in business knows that whatever system you put in place, you need a secondary system to check that no errors were made in the system. You do this through running an audit, through random checks, through double entry systems, cross checks and the like.
So Enfield asked the FA what checks it did to ensure that it had not made a mistake of this nature. The FA said there wasn’t one.
Now I have previously called the FA a bunch of incompetent idiots who should be first up against the wall when the revolution comes before, not least over their inability to spend money given to them by Sports England for the development of new 3G pitches for children to learn football on. In that case they said they couldn’t spend the money because the weather was too bad (the money was to be spent in the summer). Sport England took the money back.
And here again we have gross and overwhelming incompetence on a scale that has to be seen to be believed. Incompetence not just in handling the Enfield affair but running the entire record keeping of player suspensions across the whole of English football WITHOUT ANY CHECKING PROCEDURE.
Like any one-party-state (which is of course exactly what the FA is) the FA has incompetent management and absolute rules which cannot be bent. If they were running a country it would be “if you drive at over 30 mph in a built up area you will be shot, even if you did so on the orders of a police officer in uniform”. Oh yes, and they would not have a checking system to ensure they were shooting the right person.
So it is not surprising to read their rule on this matter which says, “any club found to have played an ineligible player shall have any points gained from that match or matches deducted from its record … and have levied upon it a fine.” No reference to whose fault it was, checking procedures etc.
The fact is that because of the overwhelming arrogance of the FA it is actually impossible for clubs to know if footballing records are incorrect but when they are found to be incorrect they will be punished. Yes the one-part-state sure does come to mind.
Some anniversaries of note
9 May 1891: Royal Arsenal FC voted at its AGM to turn itself into a professional side, making the club the first professional team in the south of England in a move proposed by Jack Humble. Although the move had opponents the opposition did not lead to any expulsions or bans as the club’s official history suggested for many years.
9 May 1981: Arsenal 3 Eastern Athletic Association (Hong Kong) 0. Last game for Frank Stapleton. After 223 league games he signed for Man U – a move that was not surprisingly, poorly received by Arsenal supporters..