Football Mid North Coast preliminary final abandonment finally reaches conclusion

More than two months after the Football Mid North Coast (FMNC) preliminary final between Macleay Valley Rangers (MVR) and Wallis Lake was abandoned, a conclusion has finally been reached.

An altercation occurred between a Rangers official, two Wallis Lake players and three spectators in the second half of the contest and the referee called an end to the game with the scores locked nil-all.

The referee didn’t issue any disciplinary action at the time of the incident and the referee’s report didn’t include the involvement of the official, spectators or players.

With no charges laid by the match officials, the matter became an investigation under the FFA Code of Conduct.

This forced the FMNC into a lengthy and detailed process to ensure the correct conclusion was met.

FMNC general manager Bruce Potter met with the FMNC board a day after the incident and he said all options were discussed and the final resolution was made to replay the contest on Tuesday night, prior to any judiciary hearings, with the winner to meet Port United in the grand final.

Potter claims that at the time of the decision, no players were identified to have been involved in the melee and one official had chosen to stand down.

The two Wallis Lake players, who have now been handed suspensions, played key roles in defeating MVR in the preliminary final and the premiership victory in the grand final decider against Port United.

The FMNC has commended the work of the independent Chairman of the Disciplinary Committee.

After a thorough investigation, eight sanctions were issued, seven parties accepted their guilt while one spectator from Kempsey appealed and was exonerated.

Four parties requested their right to be heard and three parties later lodged appeals to be heard before an independent tribunal.

The final Code of Conduct process is complete and punishments have been delivered and accepted with the following penalties to stand.

  • Wallis Lakes will start the 2018 season with a 3 point penalty deduction and were issued  a fine.
  • MVR will start the 2018 season with a 3 point penalty deduction and were issued a fine.
  • MVR will lose the right to host two home games in 2018.
  • MVR official banned for two years, second year suspended.
  • Wallis Lake Player suspended for four matches.
  • Wallis lake Player suspended for three matches.
  • One spectator banned for two years.
  • One spectator banned for one year.

Bruce Potter said the intention of the penalties, including the loss of points for the next season, is to send a very clear message that this behaviour will not be tolerated.

MVR’s president Ashley Williams wasn’t pleased with the punishments delivered to the club and claims it’s impossible to prevent spectators from entering the pitch.

“Of course we are still not happy with the punishments handed down to our club, in saying that, I’m happy that we’re were able to successfully downgrade our sentence from minus six points to a one match equivalent for the 2018 season,” Williams said.

“We lost two home games for being the host club because the rules say while both clubs are responsible for their own spectators, we (MVR) as the hosts are ultimately responsible for all.

“As a club we did everything required of us, we supplied two ground controllers on the day. No one will physically be able to stop a pitch invader, it happens at major sporting events with hundreds of security guards.

“As for the other sanctions handed down, I will support the decision of Football Mid North Coast.”

Williams commended the actions of all of the Rangers players, who had no involvement in the altercation.

“I would like to commend our players throughout the incident and this whole process, they were not involved – not one of them – and I can say I’m very proud of each and every one of them, I hope and know that we will be back bigger and stronger in 2018,” Williams said.

The Rangers are in preparation for next season and are advertising for first, reserve, men’s and women’s coaches with the closing date for applications on December 1.