Knights may be awarded extra points
30 August 2006
By ANDREW STILL
An off-field 'own goal' by Australian side the Newcastle Jets could result in the New Zealand Knights being awarded an Australian A-League win.
There's speculation Newcastle fielded an ineligible player in its season-opener at North Harbour Stadium last Sunday. The match was a 0-all draw.
The player is All Whites defender Steven Old, who came on as a replacement late in the match.
The issue is whether Newcastle gained an international transfer for Old from his former national league team, YoungHeart Manawatu.
Also at question is whether YoungHeart Manawatu should be compensated by Newcastle for helping develop the 20-year-old's career.
International rules stipulate a player's former clubs are entitled to compensation once the player signs his first professional contract with another club, providing the player is still under 23.
Old had played for New York's St John's University since 2004, but players don't require transfers to play college soccer in the United States.
Officials from Football Federation Australia (FFA) were yesterday refusing to comment.
"I can't give you a time of when, or if, we would actually make comments regarding that issue . . . there's nothing else I can say about the matter," said A-League media spokesman Adam Mark.
Soccer New Zealand chief executive Graham Seatter believed Newcastle had a case to answer.
"To the best of our knowledge, his registration does still sit with Manawatu," Seatter said.
"It seems St John's may have approved the clearance for him to play at the Jets, but we don't think they're actually entitled to do that."
To kick off transfer formalities, Soccer New Zealand faxed a copy of Old's signature on a YoungHeart Manawatu registration form to the FFA this week. It was still awaiting a reply.
If found to have breached international player transfer rules, Newcastle could be fined and Sunday's match could be awarded to the Knights.
Soccer New Zealand was first alerted to Old's possible ineligibility by several Manawatu sources, even during Sunday's game.
The Knights are refusing to get embroiled in the controversy, media manager Andrew Dewhurst saying everything was being handled by Soccer New Zealand.
"It's something very much between the FFA and New Zealand Soccer," Dewhurst said.
"From the Knights' perspective, we've not had an involvement as such, so it's definitely between the national associations."
Central Soccer administrator David Lawrie was adamant yesterday that Old was still registered with YoungHeart Manawatu. He said he faxed forms to Soccer New Zealand earlier this week to prove this.
"He's still registered with YoungHeart Manawatu, so I was surprised when I heard his name (in the Newcastle squad) on Sunday," Lawrie said.
"The fourth official was actually holding him off (on the sideline), so I thought he might not go on anyway and it wouldn't be an issue. But now it's in the hands of Soccer New Zealand (regarding) what they do."
Old transferred from Palmerston North Marist, to YoungHeart Manawatu late last year to play a handful of games in last season's national football championship.
That came during a break in his university studies at St John's in January.
Lawrie believes the whole transfer issue could stem from a simple misunderstanding on Newcastle's behalf.
Lawrie has noticed Old names St John's as his club side when appearing for the All Whites in recent internationals.
imagine if they win. they would win by default yes, but it would be the new knights first win... like ever they didnt win a match at all last year