Port Vale were forced to play Tuesday’s crucial FA Cup tie against Plymouth with six rather than seven substitutes after another embarrassing administrative error.
Joe Davis had returned from a loan spell with Luton and was widely expected to play in the game. However, rather than check that the player was indeed eligible, the club allowed Davis to travel as part of a seventeen man squad and it was only in the hours before the game that the club learnt that the player was not eligible.
Ironically, the matter had been raised on the OVF forums and several fans had urged the club to check the rules with the FA – advice that was clearly ignored by the club’s administrators.
With no-one available to take Davis’ place, the club were forced to name only six substitutes and had no defensive cover for Chris Robertson, who had missed Saturday’s game through injury. If this issue had been checked earlier, then Vale could surely have replaced Davis in the travelling party with a player that actually could play in the tie.
This is the second time Vale had been embarrassed by administrative errors in recent years.
In November 2012, Vale missed out on the loan signings of Lee Hughes and Jed Wallace as the paperwork was submitted too late. In that case, Vale were forced to wait until January to sign Hughes and missed out on Wallace entirely. Luckily, the slip did not hinder Vale’s promotion bid, but it could potentially have been financially disastrous. Similarly, this slip ahead of a crucial cup tie has similar implications.
With another humiliating error occurring, Vale fans are entitled to ask – should the person or persons responsible keep their job if they are unable to get the basics right?