LUSTIGMAN

MMFL Chairman Stuart Lustigman

A Maccabi Masters football team has won an appeal against a 12-point deduction for fielding a non-Jewish player recommended to them by the league’s chairman.

Zig Zag Marshside, who play in Division Two of the Maccabi Masters Football League (MMFL), were handed the punishment – seven points of which were to be suspended until the end of next season – and fined £25, for what the MMFL claimed was “in relation to the failure of the club and its representative(s) to check the details of the player’s eligibility before submitting the registration form.”

The club said they didn’t question his faith as he was recommended to them by the MMFL Chairman Stuart Lustigman (pictured), and took the case to the London Football Association, who ruled in their favour, saying: “Due to the player introduction to the Club by the Chairman of the League, the Club acted in good faith. The League accepted the player’s registration. The player, therefore, did not play ineligibly and thus the 12 points deducted, by the League are to be reinstated.”

Happy with the outcome, but wanting an apology from the League, a spokesman for Zig Zag Marshside said: “We’d like an apology from the League and the Chairman, and an acknowledgement that they were wrong. They accused us of lying, but we were misled.”

The player in question, Nick Tseriotis, joined the club last season and featured for them 13 times. His faith was brought into question this season when another team complained to the MMFL about him, and through their subsequent investigation, the League acted.

Club officials now believe the League ‘have it in’ for the side, saying: “We do feel as a club that there’s something going on against us. We feel they’re trying to find ways to undermine us – which was vindicated by the LFA – we didn’t want to take it to them but felt we had to.

“We still want to play in the League, but feel it needs to be restructured. We hope they learn from this chastening experience and will now endeavour to put their house in order. This should never have needed to go to the LFA if the `MMFL had let common sense prevail.”

Reacting to the club’s claims, Jeremy Silverstone, the MMFL’s Registrations and Publicity Office, said: “We don’t think it’s appropriate to comment publicly on individual cases, other than to say that the Management Committee made what it considered to be a fair and reasonable decision based on the evidence presented to it, and the admissions of guilt made by the representatives of the club.

“Nevertheless, we fully abide by the LFA’s decision, and we take on board their helpful recommendations regarding refinements to our registration process.”

And dismissing claims that Zig Zag Marshside are treated differently to other sides, Silverstone said: “Contrary to what some team representatives may think, we treat every case consistently, and the vast majority of our players and team representatives are very satisfied with the way the Masters League is run.

“They appreciate that as volunteers, the Committee members give up their own time to try to provide a platform for our community to enjoy playing football together.

“It’s very disappointing that any team feels the need to involve a firm of solicitors at their appeal, and especially for them to now claim £1,500 in legal costs from the league.

“Our ethos has always been that playing is more important that winning, but we accept that sometimes a small number of people lose sight of this philosophy.”