Miles Rutherford fears Moneyfields’ Wessex League premier division ambitions will be scuppered by a points deduction after an administrative oversight.
The Football Association have informed them they failed to obtain international clearance for striker Steve Hutchings on his return from Australia.
The front man joined Melbourne side Shepparton last season but rejoined Moneyfields during the summer after becoming homesick Down Under.
Since then, he has played a key role in the Dover Road side’s season, scoring four goals and helping them to 11th in the league table.
Hutchings also featured in two of Moneyfield’s FA Cup fixtures this term.
The club admit they are guilty of playing Hutchings without the proper clearance but insist they were unaware of the regulations.
Rutherford is also aware that punishment options include the removal of league points and a return of any FA Cup prize money.
‘We are in a bit of a pickle,’ admitted Rutherford.
‘It was only when the FA contacted us that we realised Steve Hutchings should not have been playing.
‘As a club, we don’t see that we have done anything wrong and have certainly not been trying to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes.
‘We ripped up the player’s contract towards the end of last season so that he could go to Australia, doing him and the club out there a big favour.
‘He is a Buckland boy who has played for us for three years, spent a short time away and then came back.
‘We never dreamed he’d need international clearance and it’s something we have never come across before.
‘Why should we be trying to hide anything?
‘He has been with us all through pre-season and we could easily have organised it if we’d known.’
Hutchings’ presence up front for Moneyfields is a major boost for the club.
Few Wessex League premier division defenders, if any, have a comfortable 90 minutes against him. Rutherford and the club are now waiting to see what punishment will be handed out to them.
Wessex League secretary John Gorman has been made aware of the situation by the FA and they, too, are playing a waiting game.
‘We have to wait and see what the FA do before we act,’ said Gorman.
‘Once they have acted then the matter will come back into our hands.
‘Options available include deducting points but the whole thing is a minefield. We must be careful a club is not punished twice for the same offence.’
Rutherford admits he is annoyed by the situation but is determined not to let it undermine his plans at Moneyfields.
‘If we lose points so be it,’ said Rutherford.
‘It won’t be the end of the world and even if they do take our points away, we won’t be in trouble of going down.’
The FA were unavailable for comment.