Portsmouth football team crowned league champions – almost four months after their final game of the season!

A Portsmouth football team have been crowned league champions - almost four months after playing their last game of the season!

By Simon Carter
Monday, 20th June 2022, 11:38 am
Updated Monday, 20th June 2022, 11:38 am

Burrfields have been awarded the Mid-Solent League’s Division 1 title by an independent panel.

That was after Harvest, who thought they had won the league by beating Mob Albion in their final fixture, had three points deducted for fielding ineligible players.

After the panel ruled the Harvest v Mob fixture must be replayed, a date was set at Front Lawn in Leigh Park. But the FA refused to sanction the fixture as it was taking place in June.

Burrfields have been crowned Mid-Solent League champions - almost four months after playing their final game of the season Picture: Sam Stephenson.

With Harvest withdrawing from the Mid-Solent League - they will play in the Hampshire Combination in 2022/23 - the panel were left with no alternative but to award the title to a Burrfields side who had finished runners-up.

Burrfields would have won the title on February 26 had they beaten Mob in their final game. Leading 2-1 in the second half, they eventually lost 4-2.

Mob would have then won the title if they had beaten Harvest in the last game, but they lost 3-2.

Harvest were charged with playing four players against Mob who had appeared for the club’s first team, who play in the Hampshire Premier League, within the previous 21 days. League rules permitted just two.

A Mid-Solent League statement said: ‘A complaint was raised and, in view of the importance and complexity of the matter, the league asked an independent panel of local and county figures to act on our behalf.

‘When the matter was finally heard, Harvest accepted the charge and the three points won were to be deducted and the match replayed.

‘This was the least severe punishment possible under the rules - you cannot under Standard Code retain points won with ineligible players. Despite this, Harvest insisted on taking the full 14 days allowed to decide whether to appeal. This took us into June and outside the playing season.

‘Any possible solutions ended with their departure from the league.

‘The independent panel have confirmed that, as the match cannot be replayed, the three points must be deducted and no points should be awarded. The final table will reflect this.

‘The result is that Burrfields are the 2021/22 Division One winners. Finishing this way is not at all satisfactory but the winners are a club that look not only to their own interests but also those of their fellow clubs and the league as a whole.’

Burrfields boss Brian Kirby told The News: ‘It’s not the way we would have wanted to win the league.

‘We thought we had missed our opportunity by not finishing off the game against Mob when we were 2-1 up and in control. We let it slip in the last 20 minutes - that was a frustration for us.’

He added: ‘I feel we deserve it (to win the title) as much as Harvest or Mob.

‘We had a good run - we beat Harvest 2-0, we beat a very good Meon Milton side 6-2, we beat Wymering 4-1, we beat AFC Southbourne 7-2.

‘I think we are worthy winners. Others might disagree - that’s their opinion. The records will show Burrfields won the league.

‘We didn’t get involved (in any talks about the Harvest v Mob rematch), it wasn’t our battle to fight. We’re just guys who play football who abide by the rules.

‘It was an unusual set of circumstances … but the rules are fairly clear of what you can and cannot do.

‘Both the Harvest and Mob managers have contacted me separately to offer their congratulations. Other teams have told me we won it on merit.

‘It’s even sweeter to win the league because of the hard times. When I first took over (in 2019), we were the whipping boys. We lost 12-1 to Strawberry and 14-2 to Meon Milton. Then we only lost 4-0 to Harvest, who were the Hampshire Cup champions - that was massive progress.

‘I think we’re a good advert for developing our own talent. We have certain ways we train and we have a certain style of play. Credit to my coaching team for bringing the players on - we have players who could play at a much higher level.’