Wrex­ham’s help­ing hand is so wrong

The Football League Paper - - NEWS -

IT’S been a fan­tas­tic sea­son for Welsh football. Swansea won the League Cup to se­cure Euro­pean football next year. Cardiff clinched pro­mo­tion to the top flight af­ter 51 years away. And all by them­selves too. So it’s a real shame the Welsh FA felt the need to spoil things by shame­lessly giv­ing Wrex­ham a leg-up in the Con­fer­ence play-offs. David Artell, who scored the Dragons’ opener in their 2-1 semi-fi­nal first-leg win over Kid­der­min­ster this week, shouldn’t have been any­where near that pitch.

Sent off in the dy­ing mo­ments of Wrex­ham’s fi­nal game of the sea­son for a high tackle, he should have been start­ing a three-match ban.

But, on ap­peal to the Welsh FA, Artell had his ban over­turned, al­low­ing him to take part in the play-offs.

Yes, that’s right. De­spite be­ing sent off in an English league by an English ref­eree,Wrex­ham were al­lowed to take their case to the Welsh FA who – sur­prise, sur­prise – found in their favour.

Just like they did when Cardiff’s Dar­ren Purse had his ban over­turned on the eve of the 2008 FA Cup fi­nal. Just like they did when Swansea striker Lee Trun­dle was ex­on­er­ated for a two-footed tackle against Rochdale’s Jamie Clarke in 2005.

Then, as with Artell, they put out a ris­i­ble state­ment say­ing that the “send­ing off was suf­fi­cient pun­ish­ment”.

Rules

not class. FORM wins play-offs,

both. And Brighton, though, pos­sess

ri­vals for a place in the that should make their Pre­mier League very afraid.

tasted since the Seag­ulls last It is eight games for be­ing

were once renowned de­feat. And while they

now have the best Gus Poyet’s men at­trac­tive but open,

the di­vi­sion. de­fen­sive record in But with Leo

their Achilles heel. Goals? That was once

they are now fly­ing to Brighton’s brains, Ul­loa adding brawn tr ounced 6-1 last

place. Ask Black­pool, in from all over the week. of the year in

Cham­pi­onship player Wat­ford have the Palace have the

deadly on the break. Matej Vy­dra and are top scorer in

and the di­vi­sion’s mag­i­cal Wil­fried Zaha Le­ices­ter

are bang in form, while Glenn Mur­ray. Bolton

in spades. play-off ex­pe­ri­ence and For­est have

their run like Brighton. But, no­body has timed

the Seag­ulls’ qual­ity And no­body can match

For my money, they right across the park.

team come will be a Pre­mier League

Au­gust.

Are we re­ally sup­posed to swal­low this non­sense? Artell was sent off in the 87th-minute of a match that meant noth­ing, ef­fec­tively mak­ing his ‘pun­ish­ment’ a three-minute ban. How is that in any way suf­fi­cient?

Be­sides, a red card for vi­o­lent con­duct car­ries a manda­tory three-game sus­pen­sion. By over­turn­ing the ban but not the dis­missal, the FAW have fla­grantly rewrit­ten the rules. They might as well just stick two fin­gers up at the English FA, and Kid­der­min­ster.

Wrex­ham did not cheat. The FAW did not cheat. They acted within the rules, how­ever lu­di­crous those rules may be. But that does not make it right.

The be­hav­iour of the Welsh au­thor­i­ties in this case goes way be­yond poor sports­man­ship. They de­lib­er­ately helped a Welsh side gain an ad­van­tage over an English ri­val.

If Wrex­ham do bat­tle their way out of the Con­fer­ence, good on them. They are en­ti­tled to ex­ploit any loop­hole.

But any en­try into the Football League should be made con­di­tional upon them ditch­ing any af­fil­i­a­tion to the Welsh FA and com­ing un­der English ju­ris­dic­tion – just as Swansea and Cardiff agreed in May 2011.

This is not about na­tion­al­ism. It is about fair­ness. And there is noth­ing fair about a league where pun­ish­ments dif­fer de­pend­ing on which side of the Severn you sit.

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

FLY­ING HIGH: Brighton’s Leo Ul­loa is help­ing to make the Seag­ulls the Cham­pi­onship team to beat

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