The Football League Paper - - INSIDE - By Joshua Richards

IN TWO years at Rother­ham all mid­fielder Lee Freck­ling­ton has known is glory – but an ap­par­ent ad­min­is­tra­tive er­ror could be about to change all that with the risk of a points de­duc­tion the big­gest threat to their Cham­pi­onship sta­tus.

And, hav­ing worked so hard to help the Millers reach English foot­ball’s sec­ond tier, Freck­ling­ton ad­mits he would be dev­as­tated to have all that snatched away.

The 29-year-old orig­i­nally joined the Millers – then in League Two – on loan from Peter­bor­ough in 2012, scor­ing on his de­but away at Alder­shot.


His short-term stay was soon made per­ma­nent and, af­ter win­ning one pro­mo­tion in each of his two sea­sons at the club, his most re­cent run-out for the Millers came against Ful­ham on Wed­nes­day night.

Their per­for­mance in that 1-1 draw was the high­light of a tu­mul­tuous week, how­ever, as on Mon­day Rother­ham were charged with field­ing an in­el­i­gi­ble player in a 1-0 win against Brighton ear­lier this month. The Foot­ball Dis­ci­plinary Com­mis­sion will now study the facts of the case and de­liver a po­ten­tial pun­ish­ment “at the ear­li­est pos­si­ble op­por­tu­nity” – promised to be be­fore the sea­son ends on May 2.

Black­pool were found guilty of the same of­fence this sea­son and fined £30,000, though they lost the game in ques­tion. In the last five years AFC Wim­ble­don, Here­ford, Torquay and Hartle­pool have all been docked points.

Millers manager Steve Evans is typ­i­cally forthright in his as­ser­tion he should be ab­solved of any blame, be­liev­ing an ini­tial 28-day youth loan for de­fender Far­rend Raw­son had been re­newed in time for him to start against the Seag­ulls.

Evans called his play­ers in from train­ing on Mon­day to re­veal the news and Freck­ling­ton ad­mits it would be gut-wrench­ing if a points de­duc­tion leads to their rel­e­ga­tion.

“We would be ab­so­lutely gut­ted,” said Freck­ling­ton, pic­tured. “We’ve worked so hard to get here.

“We were at the train­ing ground on Mon­day morn­ing.The gaffer pulled us in for a meet­ing and said there was a pos­si­bil­ity a points de­duc­tion could hap­pen, but didn’t elab­o­rate any fur­ther than that.

“We’re very dis­ap­pointed. It’s news we weren’t ex­pect­ing, but we’ve just got to get on with it, be­cause it’s some­thing we can’t con­trol.

“We’ve got to look for­wards, be­cause I don’t know what went on. You have to be­lieve the right thing will hap­pen. If you don’t be­lieve, you may as well give up and con­cede rel­e­ga­tion. We are go­ing to fight to the very end, points de­duc­tion or no points de­duc­tion.” Freck­ling­ton has­spent time in and out of the first team this sea­son.

His start at Craven Cottage was his 21st in the Cham­pi­onship, but boss Evans was suf­fi­ciently con­vinced of his tal­ent to re­ward Freck­ling­ton with a new twoyear con­tract in De­cem­ber.

Rather than com­plain about a non­reg­u­lar start­ing berth though, Freck­ling­ton has bought into Rother­ham’s ‘all-for-one’ men­tal­ity.

And the Repub­lic of Ire­land B in­ter­na­tional be­lieves they will stay up.

“We’re at the wrong end of the league and the only way we can get out of it is to keep fight­ing and keep pos­i­tive,” Freck­ling­ton added.

“Home form is al­ways cru­cial if you are go­ing to sur­vive. At times our place can be rocking and hope­fully with two home games to go that can con­tinue.

“No-one thought we would come back at Wem­b­ley (they were 2-0 down to Ley­ton Ori­ent in the League One play-off fi­nal last sea­son and even­tu­ally won on penal­ties) and we did. We will carry on fight­ing to try and stay here.

“Last year our goal was to get pro­moted and we kept go­ing un­til the end of the sea­son. This year we have a dif­fer­ent goal but it’s the same premise – we have to fight to the very end.”

PIC­TURE: Richard Parkes

CRU­CIAL ER­ROR? Far­rend Raw­son bat­tles for the ball in the 1-0 win against Brighton – but it ap­pears he wasn’t el­i­gi­ble to play

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