Doncaster Rovers ordered to play game cancelled by Bolton Wanderers

Doncaster Rovers have been ordered to rescheduled the game that was controversially cancelled by Bolton Wanderers in August.

Thursday, 21st November 2019, 6:30 pm
Updated Friday, 22nd November 2019, 12:33 pm
Bolton Wanderers

An independent disciplinary panel appointed by the EFL have ruled on the fate of the fixture as well as the punishment to be handed down to Bolton for unilaterally calling-off the game less than 36 hours ahead of the scheduled kick-off time.

A statement issued by the EFL includes: “This season’s fixture with Doncaster Rovers will be rescheduled and details will be confirmed as soon as possible.”

Bolton have been handed a three point deduction for cancelling the fixture, with the punishment suspended for 18 months. They have also been fined £50,000.

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On the afternoon of Monday, August 19 Bolton issued a statement saying they had taken the decision to call-off the game with Rovers on August 20 on grounds of concerns for the welfare of the young players they had been forced to field after starting the season in administration. Premier League academy guidelines were cited as part of the decision, stating clubs are encouraged to arrange age group fixtures on Saturdays to minimise the risk of injuries.

Neither Rovers nor the EFL had been informed of the decision prior to it being made public.

Rovers have held the stance that they should have been awarded the result due as Bolton forfeited the fixture and made representations with that sentiment.

It is understood they were informed early in the process that the EFL were keen to see the fixture played.

The fate of the match – plus any punishment for Bolton – were handed to an independent panel who met last Thursday.

And part of the judgement included that the fixture should be arranged.

The panel also ruled on Bolton’s match last season against Brentford which they failed to play after the Lancashire club’s players refused to play over unpaid wages. A rescheduled game was also cancelled after Bolton’s safety advisory group blocked it from being played at the University of Bolton Stadium.

With the fixture set to be the final match of the season, the EFL did not pursue a further rearrangement and awarded Brentford a 1-0 win.

The independent disciplinary panel which met last week ruled that Bolton should be handed a two point deduction, suspended for 18 months, and a £20,000 for the Brentford fixture.

A statement from the EFL reads: “An independent Disciplinary Commission, appointed under EFL Regulations, has ruled that Bolton Wanderers will be handed a sanction of five points, suspended for 18 months, and a financial penalty as a result of being deemed guilty of breaching EFL Regulations in failing to meet its fixture obligations.

“The Commission’s findings follow the consideration of a series of charges in relation to Regulation 31 and the non-fulfilment of two fixtures over the course of two seasons with the first in reference to the Club’s failure to meet its requirements for the scheduled 2018/19 Championship fixture with Brentford, while further charges were issued in September 2019, after the Club failed to fulfil its League One fixture against Doncaster Rovers on Tuesday 20 August 2019.

“At a hearing on Thursday 14 November 2019, the Club pleaded guilty to the charges and, after hearing representations from both parties, the independent panel has ruled that Bolton Wanderers will be subject to a two point deduction for the fixture against Brentford and a further three points for the match against Doncaster Rovers. Both penalties are suspended for 18 months and will not be activated as long as the Club is not subject to a further misconduct charge for non-fulfilment of fixtures in that timeframe.

“The financial penalty issued includes £20k and £50k fines handed out for the two respective fixtures, with half of the amounts due also suspended for 18 months.

“The decision remains subject to appeal.

“This season’s fixture with Doncaster Rovers will be rescheduled and details will be confirmed as soon as possible.”

Rovers are set to comment on the outcome of the hearing on Friday.