A Football Disciplinary Commission (FDC) has fined Gillingham £4,000 (suspended for 12 months) after the club admitted fielding an ineligible player – Emmanuel Osadebe - in its Sky Bet League 1 fixture with Sheffield United on the opening day of the 2015/16 season (August 8), a match the Gills won 4-0.
As an exception, The Board of The Football League approved a decision not to seek a points deduction from the FDC because of mitigating factors that have reduced the club’s level of culpability on the matter.
- Gillingham signed Osadebe in July 2015 and sent the relevant registration forms to The Football League and the Football Association simultaneously, in the normal way.
- The club understood Osadebe’s previous club to be affiliated to Tottenham Hotspur’s youth development programme and, as such, incorrectly considered his signing to be from within the domestic player registration system.
- The player was registered by The Football League on July 22 based on the information submitted by the club.
- However, Osadebe’s previous registration was in fact at Irish club Dundalk.
- Despite having been submitted in good time, the club’s documentation was not processed by the FA ahead of the 2015/16 season.
- Had the FA processed the registration, it would have been identified that Osadebe needed international clearance, Gillingham would have been informed accordingly and the player would not have been selected to play until the matter had been resolved.
- Given that the player had already been registered by The Football League, Gillingham selected Osadebe for the match against Sheffield United despite the absence of written confirmation from the FA that it too had registered the player.
A Football League spokesman said: “While Gillingham have admitted that Emmanuel Osadebe should not have been selected for the match with Sheffield United on August 8 without all of the necessary confirmations being in place, it is also fair to say that the FA should have identified this issue earlier. Had it done so, this breach of regulations would never have occurred.
“Given the exceptional circumstances of this case, the Commission has ruled that the club should not find itself subject to a points deduction.”
To view the full written decision of the FDC click here.