The highly controversial Munster Senior League debacle has taken a further twist with the news that the MSL withheld information from University College Cork.
Story So Far
– UCC protest due to Leeds fielding ineligible player is denied by MSL. Denied by Munster Football Association. Denied by FAI. Case is taken to arbitration.
– UCC awarded a 3-0 victory by arbitrator Max Duthie.
– UCC finish with 42 points, Avondale 41 points. Leeds relegated.
– Avondale title revoked, UCC’s new points total sees them declared as Munster Senior League champions.
While University College Cork’s crowning as Munster Senior League champions has been highly publicised in the last 72 hours, it appears that there is more to the story than has been revealed.
With both UCC and Avondale at loggerheads over the decision by arbitrator Max Duthie to award the league to the university, the one thing that both parties have been able to agree on is the ineptitude of the Munster Senior League (MSL).
As the chief body responsible for Munster’s most senior football league, one would think that transparency and objectivity would be to the forefront of the MSL’s mantra. As a young schoolboy, many of us would have envisioned the Munster Senior League as being a Utopian league where the elected gods of amateur football oversee Cork’s most talented amateur footballers.
From the outside, it would appear that the MSL have done a great job. Avondale’s success nationally is unrivaled and gives the MSL huge credibility, while UCC have also enjoyed Collingwood Cup success while plying their trade in the MSL Premier Division.
However, scratch beneath the surface and it’s clear that the MSL is strikingly similar to a totalitarian regime that seeks to control every single aspect of the league; match results included.
Earlier in the season, the 23rd of April, 2014 to be exact, Everton were awarded three points for their game with Leeds, after it became clear that the Ballyvolane side had fielded an ineligible player. Seems fair right? Well, the strange thing is that Everton never lodged an official protest with the MSL.
It’s unclear how it was brought to the attention of the MSL and dealt with rapidly and quietly. Everton, a well-respected Cork club, have distanced themselves from any connection with the actions of the MSL.
One of our sources in the Munster Senior League, himself a player, told Pundit Arena that the Everton players were quick to distance themselves from any involvement in the appeal, a stance that Leeds accepted.
Leeds themselves disputed the decision that the player in question was ineligible and still feel strongly that they posted the form in on time. The Munster Football Association ruled that Leeds’ appeal against the MSL’s decision, according to the arbitration document was:
“out of order on the basis that the copy of the appeal that had been sent to the MSL was not sent by registered post.”
Registered post? Rumour has it that the carrier pigeon was unavailable at the time.
The fielding of the ineligible player by Leeds had implications for both sides of the table however, as the player in question played against a number of other MSL teams during the season, two of which were involved in a relegation battle.
These two clubs lodged a protest to the MSL via written letter in May, as they felt their Premier Division status could have been affected by the same issue. If, according to the MSL’s ruling, Everton were given three points, then surely other clubs must be treated in the same manner?
This is where the plot thickens.
Throughout the proceedings with UCC, which went from the MSL, all the way up to arbitrary court, stopping at the MFA and FAI on the way, the MSL never opted to disclose the fact that at least two other teams had lodged an objection to Leeds’ fielding of Player X. The MSL failed to acknowledge that they had received the appeals.
The brushes were out but there was no room left to sweep under the proverbial rug of controversy.
During the arbitration process, to the astonishment of the MSL, a representative of UCC brandished copies of said letters. The MSL had no reply.
The arbitrator, Max Duthie, was quoted as saying the following:
“If there’s corruption and someone (MSL) sits on the information, then how can their decision making be just?”
The fact that the independent arbitrator used the word ‘corruption’ speaks volumes. Corruption can be defined as dishonest action by those in power, and it’s clear this was the case here.
John Ryan, Avondale manager at the time of the incident, said the following when speaking to Pundit Arena:
“We rang the MSL again because we heard noises that UCC might appeal. We rang them on Friday 16th of May to reconfirm with their secretary that we were league champions, that there was no appeal lodged, and we could approach the week accordingly.
The league said “yes, Avondale are league champions, that’s it”. We asked them to state that the final league game with UCC regardless of the result, is a dead rubber. They said “yeah”.”
The Munster Senior League, Cork football’s gatekeepers, told the Avondale manager that there was no appeal lodged and that the game was “a dead rubber”. They failed to mention the fact that they had previously given Everton three points due to an ineligible Leeds player and that other teams could lodge protests for the same infringement when the Ballyvolane side played their clubs. The MSL had no problem giving ‘reassurances’ to Avondale on winning the league but on the other hand they could not give any ‘clarification’ to UCC, and the other two teams as it was a matter between the Committee and Leeds.
Furthermore, a UCC representative had spoken at the Munster Senior League AGM about the issue and also sent an email to every club.
The saddest thing about this entire mess is that it has divided two of Cork’s biggest clubs, Avondale and UCC. Had the matter been dealt with in an effective manner by the MSL, then ‘MSL Gate’ could have been avoided a long time ago.
It must be noted that the Munster Senior League have refused to take our calls. Maybe we should try registered post…