Another controversy has hit the amateur National Football League (NFL), even after the season has come to a close. On Tuesday night, NFL Division 2 side Warwick Knights were expelled from the league by the Football Association of Singapore's (FAS) independent disciplinary committee (DC).
The national body took the tough stand after Warwick were found guilty of fielding two unregistered players in place of two registered ones in a league fixture against Gymkhana FC at Yishun Stadium on Nov 11.
The DC also declared Warwick's results for the season null and void.
Warwick had finished seventh in the 10-team NFL Division 2 standings. Despite their results being wiped out, the top-six positions were not affected.
Gymkhana and South Avenue Sports Club still occupied the top-two spots that ensured promotion to Division 1 next season. The only change in the table saw ninth-placed Kembangan United leapfrog Admiralty CSC into seventh spot.
The Nov 11 incident was brought to the FAS' attention after a photograph taken by an observer at the match was circulated on WhatsApp. It highlighted the two unregistered players wearing jersey numbers 15 and 22.
This formed a key piece of evidence as the FAS compared the match-day picture with the registration forms of the two registered Warwick players - Iman Mushaiyad (No. 15) and Hamizan Akmal (No. 22).
In their mitigation to the FAS, Warwick said they were not able to assemble 11 players to line up and meet FAS president Lim Kia Tong, who was the guest of honour at the match. Hence, the club asked two of their youth players, who were not named by the FAS, to kit up and join the line.
But according to Section A, 10.1 of the NFL rule book, if a club field an "unregistered player, the club shall be expelled from the league and any further participation in the tournament".
FAS vice-president S. Thavaneson told The Straits Times that while the DC has expelled Warwick from the NFL, the FAS council will decide if the club will be allowed to return - in what form and what conditions the club have to fulfil for that to happen.
"We expect clubs to have good governance, and not only because of the fact that they receive subsidies from the FAS," he said. "What we want is a good NFL tournament with teams participating in the right spirit to help develop the game."
NFL clubs each received $8,500 in subsidies from the FAS this year.
It is not known if Warwick have collected their monies, or if the FAS will look to reclaim the funds from a club who have been expelled from the league.
Warwick have recently completed their rebranding, secured new kits from the S.Lesta Collection for next season and their team just returned from a three-day pre-season tour to Malacca.
The club have a week to appeal against the decision and they said in a statement yesterday: "We are in the midst of appealing to the DC as the punishment given was too harsh."
The last team to be expelled from the NFL were Queenstown Constituency Sports Association in July 1980. They fielded an unregistered player in a match and the then Division 3 side also saw their results declared null and void.
The latest controversy added to the NFL's woes in recent months.
Division 1 champions Yishun Sentek Mariners and Safsa were involved in a mass brawl last month, while Yishun won the title with a walkover on the last day of the season after their opponents Katong FC were unable to field enough players.