Less than 24 hours before they were due to play one of the biggest games in the club’s history, Whyteleafe last night announced that they had been kicked out of the FA Cup for fielding an ineligible player in an earlier round.
The club has seven days to appeal the decision, and have already expressed their determination to do so, describing the FA’s ruling as “totally unjustified”.
The club, currently third in the Bostik League Division One South, could face a points deduction in that competition, too, as the banned player – Taiwo Odutolu – had also made an appearance in a league fixture this season.
Whyteleafe were supposed to be playing in the second qualifying round of the cup this afternoon, at St Albans City, who play in the National League South, two tiers above the Isthmian League South club. There was big stakes, too, for the part-timers, with £9,000 in prize money for the winners of this stage of the Emirates-sponsored competition. Whyteleafe were three wins away from reaching the first round proper, when League One and League Two clubs enter.
Whyteleafe, who had needed replays to get through both previous rounds of the cup, had more than 50 supporters expecting to travel on a specially booked coach for the trip to Hertfordshire.
Unbeknown to many of them, however, Whyteleafe officials had been summoned to the Football Association for a disciplinary hearing yesterday morning.
And last night, Whyteleafe posted on their site the news that none of their supporters had wanted to read.
The Whyteleafe statement said: “The disciplinary hearing at the FA this morning reached the decision that Whyteleafe FC played Adekunle Odutolu illegally in the FA Cup match on 4th September 2018 and in the league match against Guernsey in the first league match of the season.
“The Club were found guilty of this charge, despite the evidence which clearly stated the player was checked under the name Adekunle Odutolu and not under the previously unknown name of Taiwo Odutolu which he had obtained the suspension from.
“The FA Cup 2RQ match against St Albans has been cancelled and Whyteleafe has been removed from the competition. Any deduction of points from the Bostik South East division will be decided upon by the Bostik League.
“As far as the FA Cup competition currently stands, Corinthian-Casuals will be reinstated and will play St Albans on Monday 1st October, subject to any appeal.
“The Club is fully intending to appeal against this decision which they feel is totally unjustified and the appeal will take place within the next 7 days.”
The cup tie on September 4 was the preliminary round against Saltdean United. Whyteleafe are the third club this season to be disqualified by the FA for fielding an ineligible player.
Whyteleafe have been managed since May by Harry Hudson, the young coach who had such success last season at Croydon FC. Whyteleafe’s club website list of first team players shows nine who played for the Trams last season.
What is not on Whyteleafe’s online list of players is any information on Adekunle Odutolu, the player they say that they used in the previous round of the FA Cup against Corinthian Casuals and they maintain is eligible to play.
The club’s own list of players does, however, include details on Taiwo Odutolu, who the FA says is banned from football. According to Whyteleafe, Taiwo Odutolu is a 21-year-old midfielder who joined them during pre-season from Leighton.
Last night, a Whyteleafe club official told Inside Croydon that, “The appeal has every chance in my opinion.”
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