Sheffield United: Rivals censured for rules breach during Blades game

Gillingham's Emmanuel Osadebe against Sheffield United's Chris Basham
Gillingham's Emmanuel Osadebe against Sheffield United's Chris Basham

Sheffield United’s League One rivals Gillingham have escaped a points deduction despite being found guilty of fielding an ineligible player when the two clubs met on the opening day of the season at Priestfield Stadium.

The Football League announced this afternoon that Justin Edinburgh’s side would instead be fined £4,000, suspended for 12 months, after officials admitted an administrative error had led to Emmanuel Osadebe’s selection.

Osadebe’s transfer from Dundalk was processed via the domestic player registration system because it was thought an affiliation agreement existed between the Irish team and Tottenham Hotspur’s youth system, where the teenager had been working on a college foundation programme.

No such agreement was in place and a further oversight by the Football Association compounded the mistake. Osadebe’s registration was actually held by Dundalk.

A Football League spokesman said: “While Gillingham have admitted that Emmanuel Osadebe should not have been selected for the match with Sheffield United on August 8 without all of the necessary confirmations being in place, it is also fair to say that the FA should have identified this issue earlier. Had it done so, this breach of regulations would never have occurred.

“Given the exceptional circumstances of this case, the commission has ruled that the club should not find itself subject to a points deduction.”