Cottesmore AFC withdraw from the Leicestershire Senior League's Everards Restart Cup
Cottesmore manager Rich Giblin insists his club's decision to withdraw from the Everards Restart Cup was the 'right thing to do for the good of the game.'
The Westray Park side pulled out of the Leicestershire Senior League tournament this week due to an ongoing disciplinary situation despite having secured their place in the semi-finals of the Premier Division competition.
The Rutland club have been accused of fielding a suspended player during one of their group clashes.
They are strongly denying the allegation, claiming an administrative error meant that they were not notified of the player being banned until 36 hours after his suspension should have started.
The matter is now going to a disciplinary hearing which would have forced league officials to postpone the rest of their competition until August.
Giblin explained: "The situation is ongoing so it is massively unfair on the likes of Desford and Hathern that we should stand in the way of other lads playing football.
"We are not happy about the situation and it is disappointing because I feel that we have every right to be in the semi-final and I maintain that we did nothing wrong.
"But the right thing to do for the good of the game is for us to stand down and let someone else take our place.
"We will go as far as we can with it because we maintain that we are getting accused of something that we didn't do.
"If we had done something wrong then we would have held our hands up because no-one is perfect.
"But the right thing for us to do was to take the lads out of the competition and then we fight the appeal away from it.
"The problem with that is it means we don't get to play in it any more which is frustrating because, when you look at what has happened, it has wholly been caused by an FA administrative error.
"We have since had it confirmed that the referee's report was sent in late which triggered it.
"The system updates on a certain day based on the referee's report and, because it missed that cut off, it went to the next one which was why we were notified on the Monday after the Saturday game that the player should have been banned for.
"It was a retrospective ban which makes no sense to anyone. We have tried to do the right thing by looking at the suspension list and our player was not on it. He wasn't actually banned until 9.30am on the Monday morning which is 36 hours after the game.
"He has since served a two-match suspension so, when it all got looked at, we thought common sense would prevail but the county FA have decided we are guilty of playing a banned player.
"We are not happy about it but we have withdraw from the competition because we feel that teams have put every effort into it."
The cup setback came in a week where Cottesmore also saw their hopes of promotion to the next step of the non-league pyramid dashed.
They had applied to move up to step six after two successful seasons but Cottesmore and none of the other five clubs in the Senior League who had applied to go up were successful in their bid.
Giblin added: "It is disappointing but we kind of expected it.
"We have worked really hard to get ourselves into this position. On the pitch we have done enough to prove that we can play at that level while off it everything has come on a long way.
"It is frustrating that none of the six teams in our division who applied have gone up but the East Midlands League folding effectively ended our hopes because a lot of their teams have moved into the United Counties League.
"It is demoralising when we have invested in making the ground better and effectively it is all for nothing.
"We have had positive discussions with the boys though and, in all honesty, this season never really got going.
"We did well and were sat where we wanted to be in the league after seven games but then it all came crashing down due to Covid-19.
"We can't really feel too hard done by because last season was the one that never really happened. We will have a few weeks off now before getting back into pre-season."