Shrewsbury Town's under-18s disqualified from FA Youth Cup
Shrewsbury Town's under-18s have been disqualified from the FA Youth Cup for fielding an ineligible player.
Town's youngsters were due to play their highly-anticipated second round clash at Montgomery Waters Meadow against Crewe on Tuesday but have been rocked by the news of their disqualification.
They have been found guilty of fielding an over-age player in last week's 3-0 success against Evesham in the previous round.
Eligible players must have been under the age of 18 on September 1. The player in question for Eric Ramsay's side was a third-year scholar.
The move from football's governing body, the FA, has been met by angry reaction from Shrewsbury chief executive Brian Caldwell, who insisted the club clarified the player's situation with the FA's competitions department prior to him playing.
"The reasoning behind it is the player is a third-year scholar that has special dispensation for him to be a third-year scholar," said Caldwell.
"He plays in the EFL Youth Alliance and therefore our youth academy checked with the FA the day before the game if he would also be eligible to play in an under-18 competition in the FA Youth Cup.
"We explained he was a third-year scholar. Explained he was over-age and the advice we were given by the competition department at the FA was that if he's eligible for the Youth Alliance under-18 then he's eligible for the Youth Cup.
"Having got that clarification, the player played in the 3-0 victory and since then we've had a charge."
Caldwell questioned the honesty and integrity of the FA, claiming that the body turned their back on the permission they allowed Shrewsbury.
He added: "In the period since we've put evidence together, hoping common sense, honest and integrity would prevail but it obviously hasn't come out.
"The story seemed to change with people in the FA. We all know what happened, we know we asked the question, we explained at our hearing this morning that we did the right thing.
"We went to the FA competitions department, asked the right person the right thing.
"To be honest I can't fault the youth guys because they've asked the question if he's eligible by the same dispensation as the Youth Alliance.
"They were given a yes, played the player and have now been punished.
"They've actually said they didn't hear he was over-age, that it wasn't mentioned, but it clearly was. We have witness statement because the whole conversation was over loud-speaker, three people heard the conversation which is even more disappointing.
"It did mention over-age and it did mention a third-year scholar.
Caldwell explained his disappointment for Ramsay's squad, who were gearing up for the tie at Town's first-team stadium.
"We've now got 20 under-18 players who were playing in the biggest competition who are out of the competition through no fault of their own and in my opinion no fault of ours either," said Caldwell.
"We've been given the wrong information by the competition department of the FA who have now hidden behind rules and said they didn't say this.
"It's really disappointing that our own governing body can't be honest and truthful."