Crawley Town 0 Yellows 1

Good decision from the club regarding the points appeal. The Oxford Mail suggested it was ‘stick or twist’ as though the decision was a game of chance. What was needed was some level-headed analytical thought.

And so it came. To fight the league on a point of principle was always a loser. The rule is the rule whether it’s a bad one or not. The arbiter of any appeal, the FA, would have been challenged to rule against the league, because above all it needed to maintain the credibility of the competition. To rule with the club would have opened the floodgates for appeals left right and centre.

The club messed things up and Hutchinson played when he shouldn’t have. We can argue until the end of time as to whose responsibility it is to make sure a player is registered. But, for now, it’s the club. The punishment for this is clear; you forfeit the game. There goes three points.

The point that the league needs to take responsibility for spotting the error is well made. But to argue this point for the sake of two points, or a badly defended corner, is as futile as claiming your season is dictated by a dodgy offside decision.

And, let’s face it, deduction or no, to be five points off the play-offs in January suddenly feels like mission impossible 2 is on. Our last successful season, 95/96 had mission impossible 1. A ho hum season burst into life at the end of January with a 2-0 win at Burnley – the first away win. We lost 3 in 21 after that and got promoted famously destroying Wycombe and Swindon along the way. Every season we start badly, I live in hope that we’ll have a late season surge. This year, maybe this could be the one.

News round-up: Yellows deducted 5 points

Oh for fuck’s sake.

Ever since September 11th, liberal society has looked for an identity that kicks against those with a radical view of the world. The attack on the twin towers highlighted that being liberal basically involves not standing for anything – even though that’s what’s great about it – we take life as it comes and are generally more relaxed about it as a result. But if you can’t say what you stand for how do you know what you stand against?

So, in the intervening years we have evolved the position of what we stand for. With financial crises at Enron and Worldcom and the recent banking crisis, we’ve come to realise the importance of governance and regulation in our lives. We’re a society based on science and logic, so our values should adhere to science and logic; in short we have become wedded to the concept that rules are rules.

Ever since we’ve been in the Conference, the governing body has influenced the outcome of the league to one degree or another. They have rules, which they feel they must be seen to apply. But at a time when the economy is discarding bad businesses, they’re applying rules in such a way that compromises what should be a half decent football competition.

To the liberal minded how can a player who has played for the club for three years and remains under contract suddenly become ineligible. What’s more he’s ruled to have had direct influence on 50% of the results he’s played in. For goodness sake, has anyone seen him play? Aside from the correct application of the rule book, how is this points deduction benefiting anyone?

The paying fan isn’t benefiting. A league point is an asset. Its value to the club is extremely limited and volatile. It will only have any value in the event that you get promoted. To the fan it provides context and purpose. Docking points is the equivalent of Ofwat punishing a water supplier by punching a hole in the water pipe into your home. It’s as damaging to you the customer as it is to the offender.

That’s why points deductions are always wrong. They benefit nobody. They just make the whole competition an arse. A financial penalty is suitably painful for those at fault, but it doesn’t compromise the competition we’re all buying into.

I work for a governing body and I have to constantly remind people that rules are not there for the benefit of the rule maker. It seems the Conference league don’t understand that.