Common Sense Prevails: EB Reverse Ridiculous Decision, Reinstate Medway Park -

Common Sense Prevails: EB Reverse Ridiculous Decision, Reinstate Medway Park

England Basketball have seen the light, and reinstated Division 1’s Medway Park Crusaders after kicking them out of the league as a result of forfeiting two games.

It wasn’t before a drawn out appeal that saw Medway have to postpone three games whilst waiting for a hearing, and face the prospect of some of the top young players the UK possesses not having a team for the remainder of the season.

Crusaders Chairman Jesse Sazant has done extremely well to remain uncritical of EB and their Competitions Committee in a statement released on Medway’s site after the decision was overturned.

“While this has been a very trying and stressful period, we are very happy with how clearly the appeal panel ruled that expulsion from the league was wholly unjustified,” he said.

“The other big positive has been the overwhelming support and kind words that have been offered from nearly every team in the league and the wider basketball community.

“We are and always have been a club whose full focus is on providing opportunities for players and coaches to develop and succeed. This has always been more important than winning to us. The numerous messages of support we received this season as a whole and especially in the last week have been a great reminder of why we do things the way we do at Crusaders.”

The initial decision, and the subsequent drawn out process to get the decision overturned (it was a week between the appeal getting sent in and the hearing, allowing yet another game to be postponed – EB responded that the panel are a group of volunteers spread around the country, being unable to immediately come together to make a decision), once again shows England Basketball’s complete disregard for what is in the best interest of both players and teams that compete in their leagues.

And it’s not just Hoopsfix that thinks so; the appeals committee had scathing words for the Competitions Committee who made the decision. In documents viewed by Hoopsfix, their final report stated:

“…the decision does not give any clue as to what factors the Competitions Committee deemed so serious as to warrant the expulsion of a club for any length of time. The lack of any clear reasons which indicate how this decision was reached is a significant flaw in the decision-making process of the committee.

“Any decision which affects the implementation of any regulations, rules or policies needs clarity and proper reasoning as it not only has significance for the club involved but for the basketball community at large. A clear decision promotes respect for the rules and regulations and confidence in how EB operates.”

It seems everyone is perplexed as to how such a decision could have been made, especially for a club that has never failed to fulfil a fixture for 10 years in senior competition before this season. It was a conclusion that was come to by a committee of just three people; all of whom have conflicts of interest, being involved with clubs in senior national leagues.

Medway Park Crusaders had a troubled start to the season, losing a number of sponsors, players and schools over a short period of time and were facing the reality of folding at the end of October.

After discussions with GB Regional Institute, Barking Abbey, they came to a mutual agreement that a number of BA’s top players who had been competing in Division 3 would sign with Medway to be exposed to the higher level of competition, whilst at the same time preventing Medway from having to fold. A win, win situation if ever there was one.

However, BA had already booked and committed to a trip to the US to compete in the City of Palms Classic, so made it clear that two games during the period they were away would have to be rescheduled; but neither of the two teams they were to face were able to reschedule.

Medway were left with no option but to forfeit, and in their minds, it was a small price to pay for being able to finish the season.

England Basketball’s Competitions Committee, had other ideas though.

Medway were informed on January 8th 2014 they would be removed from the competition.

“Regarding: Medway Park Crusaders forfeiting the following two Division 1 Men’s games: Tees Valley Mohawks vs Medway Park Crusaders, Reading Rockets vs Medway Park Crusaders…

“…Medway Park Crusaders will be removed from the England Basketball League (EBL) Division 1 Men’s competition for the remainder of the 2013-14 season for violating EBL regulation 6.16 as follows,” said the initial email from England Basketball.

It continued:

“6.16 Any club which, without just cause, fails to fulfil a League or Cup fixture on the appointed date shall be liable to forfeit league points and or to expulsion from the competition. It may also be liable to pay a fine and/or compensation to England Basketball and/or other clubs which may have been affected (see 6.13).

“Any League fixture not fulfilled within the regular season i.e. before the playoffs commence, will be declared void and the club responsible for the original postponement will be liable to a fine for non fulfilment of the said fixture.

“Any claim for an outstanding/postponed game must be received by England Basketball 14 days prior to the 1st playoff game, in order that full consideration of the claim can be made before confirming final league positions and playoff places.

“The club will also be fined the level of their surety fee for Division 1 Men and will not be permitted to re-enter Division 1 Men next season (2014-15).”

Yes, Medway should face consequences for forfeiting games – it is something that shouldn’t happen at any level of the game, but be removed from the league?

Just to put this into context; no team has been kicked out of the league for forfeiting games before. Over the last four years, 198 games have been forfeited in senior national league competitions, and the only team that were given the boot were London Capitals, but there are a long list of their previous issues…

Furthermore, four of the forfeits were in playoff games at the quarter-final stage; of course, all of these teams returned to compete the following season.

Even worse, Durham’s Women forfeited their EBL Division 2 quarter-final game in 2010-11, yet were still promoted to EBL Division 1 for the following season.

Since signing a number of BA’s players, Medway now feature no less than seven players who are part of the EB/GB junior national team set up. If Medway’s appeal did end up being rejected, and the process drawn out past the signing deadline of January 31st 2014 (a real possibility), all seven of them would have been unable to return to BA’s Division 3 squad, or play for another team.

They literally would not have had a national league team (junior or senior) to play with for the remainder of the season. Just to re-emphasise, these are some of our best young players in the country.

It wasn’t just Medway who were against the ruling; Medway obtained letters of support from eight of the thirteen fellow Division 1 clubs, protesting EB’s decision. Aren’t EB supposed to be acting in the interest of the clubs?

Yes, the decision has now been overturned, but my point is – how is it allowed to get to this point in the first place?

EB were asked how it is possible a decision like that was allowed to pass, and essentially their message was clear; the Competitions Committee are allowed to do as they please without being held accountable for their actions.

“The Competitions Committee is a sub-committee of England Basketball’s Executive Board so it’s not a case where we can step in to overrule anything. This group of people is an extension of England Basketball (EBL Regulation 1.2),” said Todd Stuart, EB’s National Leagues Officer.

“…We are not really in a position to determine if their decisions are justified or biased,” Stuart continued, when asked how EB monitor the Competitions Committees decisions.

It is perhaps for the above reasons that multiple sources close to the situation are stating that the Competitions Committee will be disbanded at the end of the season (Stuart said he was unaware of any such decision).

As many have said before, England Basketball, and their Competitions Committee, are in dire need of a shake up and until it happens, we will continue to see outrageous stories such as the above, halting the progression of basketball in the UK.

Image Credit: Cesar Velasco


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *