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Rebels feel they have a strong case as appeal goes in

By the end of play tomorrow (Friday) Slough Town will have put in their appeal against the sanctions which were brought against them by the National League.

The Rebels confirmed last week they would be appealing against the £8,000 fine and suspended eight-point points deduction for next season that was handed to them by the league for failing to fulfil four league fixtures in a season that’s now been ended and declared null and void.

However, what’s less clear is whether that appeal will go in separately or collectively with the other 16 step 2 clubs in the North and South divisions who refused to play matches while a vote on determining the outcome of the season was unknown.

The club’s steering committee and management team always felt they had just cause for not playing, believing they were protecting the club from further financial outlays during a season which looked very much likely to be terminated, and that viewpoint to a certain degree has been justified by the subsequent cancellation of the campaign. However, league rivals who continued to play matches and pay players, match officials, club staff during the brief period will also feel there has to be some recompense for those clubs who refused to play ball. As Maidenhead United’s CEO Jon Adams said last week, clubs that broke the league’s rules should expect to be penalised.

Chairman Mike Lightfoot said yesterday (Thursday): “We have to appeal by close of play tomorrow (Friday). There will be an appeal going in, but I can’t tell you the details until we inform the rest of our people.

“An independent panel will come back to us on this, it’s not in the league’s hands anymore. All we can do is appeal the league’s decision. They may come up with a date for a hearing, but there are several ways they could go, and I wouldn’t like to pre-empt that. We’ll have to wait and see what they say.

“It’s all about just cause and we’ve made several points on that, but I can’t go into detail on that now. Next week might be different.

“I’ve not heard of a single club that’s accepting the fine. I think most clubs will appeal if not all.”

Every step 2 level club who refused to play matches last season has been fined £2,000 for each individual breach and given a suspended two-point deduction per game to be imposed in the 2021/22 season, however, it will only be enforced if there is a further breach by the club.

Speaking this week joint manager Jon Underwood confirmed that he hadn’t heard any more on the matter from the club or the league and didn’t know what the timescale would be for the appeals process.

“The club has said they would appeal which is what we would expect,” he said. “I know a lot of other clubs are doing the same as well. I’ve honestly not heard a think about it to know if clubs are getting together or what the process is. I’d be surprised if any of the clubs did accept the fines.

“I saw the news at the weekend about Brian Barwick stepping down as National League chairman, and there is a lot going on at the moment, so I don’t know the latest.

“The key part of all this is you have to have just cause for not playing a game and I think everybody would agree that there are no more unusual circumstances than the ones we find ourselves in. If this isn’t just cause for not playing, then I don’t know what is to be honest. I think ourselves and any other club has a very strong case for arguing against it and taking it as far as we need to, but I just don’t know the process behind it.”

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