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Play off effected?

Conference back down over Exeter
by Hardy on 23/03/2004

The Conference have issued a statement following their agreement to settle a potentially costly legal battle with Exeter City over their going into administration.

The Conference forced to back down over Exeter
As reported here on 19th January, the Conference clubs were facing a hefty legal bill as a result of Exeter City's challenge to a number of issues effecting it following the clubs decision to go into voluntary administration earlier in the season.

The Conference has now backed down as reported at Confguide in order to avoid a situation where several clubs existence was threatened by bills potentially as high as 35,000 per club to defend the action taken by Exeter City.

Exeter have repeatedly stated that their position was being held because of a challenge by the Inland Revenue to the different treatment football clubs in administration treat other football creditors to non-football creditors. It has been the practice that "footballing" bills are settled 100% while non-football related creditors settle for reduced amounts agreed under the administration arrangement.

The Revenue appear to have decided that getting 10% of what they were owed by Exeter City under the CVA was not acceptable and launched a legal challenge to the practice. Exeter then challenged the Conference over its insistence that football creditors needed to be paid in full.

What upset fans around the Conference most was that Exeter City also challenged the rule agreed in the close season by Conference clubs that a sporting sanction of originally 12 points would be applied to clubs entering into administration to negate the advantage gained by clubs under such arrangements. Exeter City insisted that this was just a side issue, however they have continued to insist on this being part of the action and the Conference have also been forced to back down on this.

What now?

Exeter City are now just two points off the play off places in 6th and with Barnet potentially wobbling having lost their management team to Brentford it is not beyond the realms of possibility that they could find themselves in the play offs at the end of the season. If this does happen, where does this leave Barnet or the team that eventually finishes 6th?

It is entirely possible that a club in this situation could challenge the late dropping of the rule regarding sporting sanctions for entering CVA which was agreed by all the Conference clubs pre-season, thus plunging the competition into further chaos.

Dwane Lee
One further issue still outstanding is that of Dwane Lee, signed by Exeter City from Yeading in August. The Conference have claimed that there were irregularities in his registration and that this was not completed satisfactorily in time before a transfer embargo was put on Exeter when they went into CVA.

Lee was therefore an ineligible player for Exeter City, which usually results in points being deducted. The Conference have referred this matter to the FA to adjudicate on as they felt there was a major conflict of interest as four of the six clubs on the panel that would make a decision on the matter would potentially be affected by the decision reached.

The Conference statement on the whole sorry affair concludes:

The Conference, having invested an inordinate amount of time and money defending rules democratically arrived at by clubs, has had to recognise that the very survival of clubs is more important than any rule. In so doing, the Conference have still had to invest a six figure sum in legal fees, something it finds difficult to reconcile with the spirit of the game. The Conference have stressed the importance of the FA making an early decision in the case of the registration issue in order that qualification for the play offs is not left undecided.


 

 

 

 

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