Looking at the NPSL Midwest table our Royals currently sit in 6th place. A weekend full of draws keeps Cleveland in decent position, as we now have a game in hand vs some of the table’s leaders.
With that out of the way lets get into the Royals v Commodores match that was abandoned due to lightning.
AFC Cleveland vs Erie Commodores: 5/30/2015
You can read a recap of the game on the AFC Cleveland site if you want, but we’re assuming that you know the particulars. If not read this.
All caught up? Sweet.
Now on to the CONTROVERSY. Two separate articles, one on Erie’s own site, lead us to believe that Erie expects to be granted a complete do-over for this game. Here are the articles:
1. From ErieCommodores.com, “Thor Spares Commodores Blushes.” Now we don’t know what in the blue hell that headline means, but the article sites the NPSL rules and they’ve insinuated that the game will be replayed in its entirety.
2. From GoErie.com, “Erie Commodores’ home opener halted by lightning.” In this article ,”Commodores owner and general manager John Melody said the match will be played in its entirety at a later date.” This article also sites the league’s rules for him to have come to this conclusion.
Rules are rules and we have no problem with following them. We would however like some clarification.
Do the league’s rules mandate that a match abandoned because of lightning be replayed in its entirety? No, they do not. There’s actually NOTHING in the “NPSL League Policies” available online* about abandoning a game due to weather. Here, read them for yourself.
But where are they getting their information? The NPSL Referee Handbook** addresses the issue in Section 6, “Authority to Delay or Postpone A Match.” Even here however, there is no specific language that says abandoned matches need to be replayed in their entirety. It simply states, “Should a match be terminated prior to the completion of the first half, it shall be rescheduled, if possible.” That’s it… No more, no less.
So, based on what the rules actually say, and taking the spirit of Fair Play into account, the rescheduled match should begin at 29:52 with the 2-0 scoreline intact. Vinny Bell and Admir Suljevic should not be stripped of their goals due to weather. Erie’s assistant coach, who was EJECTED from the game, should not be permitted to be on the sideline and his one match ban should be implemented (per the rules: Article V Section 5.03 & 5.04). Furthermore, Thomas Davis should not be allowed to suit up as he was still serving his one match ban from the Red Card he earned in Cleveland on 5/23.
Replay From 00:00?
What if Erie gets their way? What if fair play is ignored and our players are stripped of their goals and Erie’s assistant is on the sideline? What happens if the League knuckles under and allows Erie to undeservedly hit the reset button? Do the parameters at the start of this bastardized match have to be the same? Erie was playing Saturday’s game without starter Thomas Davis due to a one game ban he earned by collecting a red card in the two teams’ previous meeting on 5/23/2015. The league’s “Arbiter’s Report” shows that his behavior was so horrendous that the league also fined the club. They certainly can’t allow him to serve his ban in their game this Friday, June 5, when they play the Michigan Stars. That most definitely wouldn’t be fair.
What will the league do about Erie’s out-of-control coaching staff? Does the sending off of an assistant go completely unrecognized and unpunished because of lightning? That seems foolish given the fact that Erie’s program is seemingly so undisciplined that in two consecutive games officials have found it necessary to eject people from their organization so that the games could be played properly.
Allowing this match to be replayed in its entirety is both unfair and potentially dangerous. It rewards the horrid behavior of both players and coaches from a club that is seemingly all too happy to point out that lightning saved them from a Royal beating on their home turf.
It’s a long shot, but we sincerely hope that the NPSL will take these points into consideration and make the right decision when it reschedules this game. They have a very clear opportunity to send a message that this is a league that that takes itself seriously and refuses to tarnish the good work that so many clubs are doing by rewarding an organization that cannot control itself any more than we can control the weather.
*NPSL League Policies: Adopted January 2013, Amended November 2013
**2014 National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) Referee Handbook