Independent Arbitrator Decision: FAW v Pontypridd United

On 15 December 2023, the Football Association of Wales (FAW) charged Pontypridd United under FAW Rules 38.1.1 and 38.1.2, for the alleged breach of the following Rules and/or Regulations:

  • FAW Rule 67
  • FAW Comet Regulation 7.2
  • Cymru Premier Rule 14.1

The charges relate to alleged offences that occurred during the 2022/23 playing season and include: 

  • Failure to correctly register James Saddler as a professional player and upload a copy of his professional contract in accordance with FAW Rules and Regulations.
  • The playing of James Saddler in 13 Cymru Premier matches while he was an ineligible player. 

The matter was referred to an Independent Arbitrator, David Phillips KC, who was appointed by Sport Resolutions.  

Phillips KC also led the Independent Arbitration Panel which heard the previous charges brought against Pontypridd United.

In the previous hearing, the Independent Arbitration Panel ordered that Pontypridd United be deducted a total of 141 points, with six points imposed immediately and 135 points suspended from the date of the decision until the end of the 2024/25 season. 

This sanction was based on Cymru Premier Rule 14.1, which states: 

No Club may play an ineligible Player in any Match.  Any Club which plays an ineligible player in a Match will have three (3) points deducted from its League record for that Playing Season (or in the case of a Play-Off Match, will forfeit the Match) and will also be liable to a fine. If the Player is a nominated but unused substitute for a Match, he shall be deemed as not having played for the Club in that Match.

In these latest proceedings, the Independent Arbitrator acknowledged that he had misinterpreted Cymru Premier Rule 14.1 with regards to his previous decision. 

He stated that he had understood the Rule to mean that a Club be deducted three (3) points on every occasion that an ineligible player was fielded. The FAW reiterated the submission it had made at the original hearing, stating that the three (3) point deduction applies to the match, irrespective of the number of ineligible players who are fielded in it. 

Therefore, on the FAW’s recommendation, the Independent Arbitrator confirmed that the total points deduction should have been 81, of which 6 were immediate, with 75 suspended. The Independent Arbitrator did not find that there had been any fault or issue with the COMET system.

With regards to the latest charges issued on 15 December 2023, the Independent Arbitrator imposed an immediate three (3) point deduction, on the basis that Pontypridd United had already been sanctioned for 12 of the 13 matches in which James Saddler participated as an ineligible player. 

The one outstanding match occurred in the same time period as the original breaches, As this was prior to the imposition of the penalties for the original breaches, it did not trigger the activation of the suspended points deduction.  

For clarity, Pontypridd United have been deducted a total of 9 points for the 2023/24 playing season as a result of the abovementioned hearings.

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