Rotherham United have turned to one of the country’s top legal minds as they face the prospect of having points deducted after a Football League charge.
The Millers have been accused of fielding an ineligible loan player, Farrend Rawson, in their 1-0 Easter-Monday win over Brighton which saw them take a big step towards Championship safety.
They have chosen leading London QC Jim Sturman to help them with their case.
The barrister works out of the prestigious 2 Bedford Row chambers and is regarded as one of the leading practitioners in his field.
The Legal 500, the most respected guide to law firms in the UK, describes him as “one of the most trusted silks for sports work”.
Sturman is vastly experienced in sports law and includes Chelsea, Spurs and Newcastle United among the many clubs he has advised in the past.
Manager Jose Mourinho and players John Terry and Frank Lampards have also used his services.
The Football League has warned that Rotherham are open to a “full range of sanctions” if they are found guilty.
Football League rule 42.2 states: “Any Club playing an unregistered or ineligible player in a League Match may have three points deducted from its score and/or be liable to such other penalty as the Board may decide.”
The FL says a Football Disciplinary Commission will convene as soon as possible so the matter can be concluded before the end of the season.
The 21st-placed Millers, who have four matches left, sit seven points above the drop zone and travel to 20th-placed Fulham tomorrow night.
Teenager Rawson played the full match against Brighton and afterwards boss Steve Evans said his 28-day youth loan had been extended to the end of the season.
However, after Saturday’s 2-0 defeat at Middlesbrough Evans said the young centre-half was back with parent club Derby County.
Sources close to Derby suggest the Rams had agreed to the extension prior to the Brighton game but that it wasn’t officially ratified. At the moment, Rawson is back at the iPro Stadium.
A Rotherham United club statement said: “The case will be heard before the FDC and such proceedings under League Rules are confidential until the case is concluded.
“Therefore we have been advised by our counsel, Jim Sturman QC, to make no further comment until the case is concluded.”
In November, Championship side Blackpool were fined £30,000 for fielding ineligible Donervon Daniels against Millwall in a game the the Seasiders lost 2-1.
In the Premier League, Sunderland escaped a points sanction last year after wrongly allowing Ji-Wong to play, but also last season the FL docked AFC Wimbledon three points after ineligible player Jake Nicholson came on as a half-time substitute and scored in a 4-3 League Two victory over Cheltenham.
In 2011, Hereford and Torquay were docked three points and one point respectively after fielding ineligible players ina match against each other.
An FL statement said: “The matter will be heard by a Football Disciplinary Commission at the earliest possible opportunity to ensure that it reaches its conclusion before the end of the season.”