Forest Green Rovers have been ordered to replay their FA Cup tie against Scarborough Athletic after admitting to fielding an ineligible player.
The Football Association (FA) announced this decision, shedding light on a breach of FA Cup Rule 109. The replay is scheduled for next Tuesday, 12 December, with Blackpool awaiting the winners in the second round.
The victors of that match will face a challenging away fixture against Nottingham Forest in the third round.
The controversy unfolded during the first-round replay on 14 November, where League 2 Forest Green Rovers secured a 5-2 victory over Scarborough Athletic of the National League North, two divisions below FGR.
The FA initiated an investigation into the matter on 1 December, raising questions about the player involved. However, specific details regarding the identity of the ineligible player remain undisclosed.
The FA, in an official statement, confirmed that Forest Green Rovers had been charged for breaching FA Cup Rule 109 by fielding an ineligible player in the Emirates FA Cup first-round proper tie against Scarborough Athletic.
The statement further revealed that the club had admitted to the charge. This admission ultimately led to the professional game board sub-committee’s decision to order a replay of the tie.
Forest Green Rovers’ situation is not the first instance of a team facing consequences for fielding an ineligible player in the FA Cup.
Scarborough Athletic posted this on their website regarding the suddenly arranged fixture:
The club would like to update our owners and supporters regarding the decision to replay our Emirates FA Cup First Round tie at the Flamingo Land Stadium on Tuesday 12th December which will be played to a conclusion as a one off match.
“It is our understanding that the case was considered on it’s individual merits and that the outcome was one of the options available to the Professional Game Board and also that the decision is final and binding.
We are now also able to inform you that it was also ordered that Scarborough Athletic FC retain all income from gate receipts from the match ordered to be replayed and that in addition Forest Green Rovers shall be responsible for their own travel and hotel costs.
We are now looking forward to what is going to be another massive occasion at the Flamingo Land Stadium with the winner of the tie to play Blackpool at Bloomfield Road on Tuesday 19th December.
Up the Boro!”scarboroughathletic.com
In November, Barnsley experienced a similar fate when they were expelled from the competition after winning their first-round replay against non-league side Horsham.
The parallels between the two cases raise questions about the adherence to rules and regulations by professional football clubs, regardless of their tier.
As a result of this replay order, the winning team will face Blackpool in the second round, with the prospect of a challenging encounter against Nottingham Forest awaiting them in the third round.
Many football fans voiced their frustration on social media, calling it a ‘fix’ and that the FA are ‘making rules up as they go along’.