Ex-England international Danny Mills has voiced his discontent after the West Riding County FA threw his son’s Pannal Sports U-14s team out of the County Cup.
Defending champions Pannal were unable to fulfil their semi-final fixture against Huddersfield-based team YMCA on February 27 after nine players were selected to play school rugby and football matches on the same day.
The West Riding FA initially postponed the game before it accepted a YMCA appeal asking to throw Pannal out owing to a late cancellation.
Mills, whose three sons play for Pannal, has taken his battle to Wembley and, despite gaining the national FA’s support, the decision has remained unaltered.
FA rules state that any ‘schools activities’ take precedence over grassroots competitions and Mills said asking children to play twice in a day went against children’s welfare.
The 35-year-old said the FA had no discretion over the West Riding FA and the latter has no appeal process.
“It stinks of hypocrisy. These people are ruining junior football. They are punishing children for being successful,” said Mills.
“Pannal Sports did everything they could. We phoned the FA, we accepted it was short notice but you can’t expect our lads to play two games in a day.
“The players are gutted. They are devastated. They are the holders of the competition. They have worked very, very hard to get to this position.
“How can you not have an appeal process in place when you get thrown out of a competition?”
Gareth Southgate, former FA head of elite development, also lamented the decision and he said YMCA’s appeal to have Pannal excluded went against the “goodwill” of the game.
He said:“It is quite clear, that in terms of child welfare it would have been bad practice to ask boys at this age group to play two fixtures in such a short period of time.”
A West Riding FA spokesman said: “The circumstances of the situation were discussed by the club committee.
“Taking all into account they made a decision to throw Pannal Sports out of the competition. The committee’s decision is final and there is no right of appeal.”
The final of the County Cup was held yesterday between YMCA and Farsley Celtic Juniors.
Mills added he has asked Harrogate Town to stage a friendly final for Pannal against Farsley Celtic Juniors to give the children the match they deserve.