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Cornwall FA defends changes to cup rules after fierce criticism from clubs
The Cornwall FA has defended its rules relating to player eligibility for junior and senior cup competitions in the face of fierce criticism from clubs across the county.
A number of teams - including Penryn Athletic and Helston Athletic - were forced to field weakened sides in their second round Cornwall Senior Cup matches on Saturday because new rules, introduced this season, prevent them calling up players who have not played at least one game for the first team.
In addition, players who have already featured in the Cornwall Junior Cup are similarly ineligible to play.
The rules are aimed at preventing clubs gaining an unfair advantage by fielding senior players in junior competitions.
But after Foxhole were forced to concede their match against Ludgvan at the weekend due to a lack of eligible players, some have claimed they go too far.
Writing on the Cornwall Football Forum website, Godolphin manager Derek Martyn said: “We [Godolphin] had to go into our game against Newquay on Saturday with only two subs because of this totally nonsensical ruling.
“There is every chance that if we were to progress much further and got one or two injuries we may not be able to field 11 players. How would the CFA look if Godolphin got to the final and could not field a full team for their end of season showpiece?”
Elsewhere Penryn played veteran keeper Chris Symons, who was injured during a training session in the days running up to their clash against Callington.
And Helston were forced to call players up from the club’s third team in order to field a fully fit starting eleven.
Cornwall FA chief executive Dawn Aberdeen said the rules may well be amended, but not until next season.
In a statement released on Monday, she said: “We are aware that competition rules changes have caused some clubs difficulties this season, and are already working with league representatives who sit on the council of Cornwall FA and the rules revision committee to address any amendments necessary for the future.
“With all cup competitions well underway, the rules as they stand will continue to be upheld for this present season to retain consistency.”
Speaking to the Packet on Tuesday, she added: “The problem is that the rules are disseminated by club secretaries, and with the best will in the world they’re perhaps not involved in running the teams.
“We have tried so hard to make sure everyone was aware of the changes. We sent the new rules out to all the clubs, including a bullet point list to make sure they knew what the individual changes were.
“I appreciate there have been difficulties this year, but this has all been done with the best intentions to protect the junior competitions from being flooded with senior players, which damages their integrity.”
Falmouth Town manager John Dent said: “I can understand the reasons behind it, but I think it’s terrible when Foxhole have 17 players available to play but they can’t use them because they haven’t played a first team game.
“Surely if they’ve been playing at the club for more than a month they should be able to play? That’s a better way of getting around it.”
Aberdeen said the subject would be discussed at one of the Cornwall FA’s annual review meetings held on December 17.
“One of the historic criticsims of the Cornwall FA is that its been a closed ship,” she said.
“But we are trying to get the message out there that we’re trying to do what’s best for everyone.
"I know people have gripes about governance, but everyone here is working for the benefit of football in the county.”
Cornwall FA chief executive Dawn Aberdeen's statement in full:
"Cornwall FA listened very closely to its member clubs and leagues regarding the universally unpopular reinstatement regulations which affected both league and county cup competition rules where the interaction between junior and senior status players were concerned. League Representatives worked with Cornwall FA to remove the reinstatement regulations and create new rules to protect the integrity of all league and county competitions.
"It was always acknowledged that with such large scale overhauling of rules they may not be perfect. All clubs were notified of rule changes prior to the AGM in June and those rule changes were passed at the AGM. All clubs were sent copies of competition rules and handbooks all containing the new rules were distributed to all clubs and leagues. Bullet point lists highlighting the changes were also sent out with individual fixture notifications at the beginning of each competition.
"We are aware that competition rule changes have caused some clubs difficulties this season and we are already working with league representatives who sit on the Council of Cornwall FA and the Rules Revision Committee to address any amendments necessary for the future.
"With all cup competitions well underway the rules as they stand will continue to be upheld for this present season to retain consistency for all clubs in past and future rounds."
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