Rivals angry over Montana withdrawal

By Danny Caro, February 1, 2012
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Following yesterday's news that Montana Boca United had withdrawn from Division One of the JC MSFL, several clubs have come forward to express frustration and disappointment at the timing and consequent changes to the league table, in what had been one of the most intriguing promotion races in years.

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Phil Peters (manager of Norstar A)
"Having started Norstar from scratch, I know that the Ray and co were probably the ones who least wanted to see things end like this.

"The comments I made earlier would have been no different had their withdrawal benefited us. Teams dropping out of the league is becoming endemic and it's a major problem.

"I tried to help Ray out two weeks ago by texting around a few people who I thought might be looking to play, but clearly this hasn't resulted in anything material.

"I just want there to be a competitive Jewish football league around in 10-20 year time and it's just such a shame that a 'proper' team like Montana is no more.

"For what it's worth, I'd like to have seen the league let them 'forfeit' the remaining games and give them time to try and rebuild over the summer, but I appreciate with a £250 penalty hanging over their heads this could never really have been an option.

"Norstar rose from the ashes four years ago after a 20 year break - I hope one day we'll see Montana return too."

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Richard Slater (Chigwell Athletic)
Why couldn't Montana have forfeited this Sunday, and then pulled out the following Monday? So they'd have completed their 75 per cent of allocated games and we could have had a fair league and title run in?

"Why didn't the management use their common sense to see that 13.5 is 75 per cent of 18 and rounded it up to 14, instead of going to 13 and getting everyone's back up, so we could keep a fair league?

"Why can't this rule just be 13 or 14 games, why is it done on percentage?

"This was the most competitive title race for years, now it'll be won on default and makes you wonder what's been the point of the last five months.

"All because no common sense was used. Unfortunately I think the will lose even more clubs over the coming years if the MSFL don't look at their old outdated rule book and move with the times, and more importantly open their minds to make these situations fair.

"I remember when we had between 60-65 teams, now it's 48 and we'll be lucky to get 45 at the start of 2012/2013. People are getting frustrated.

"This all makes the league a farce and someone will win Division One by default now. We had five teams having a great battle, now that buzz has gone. We are fuming at how this has been handled."

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Jonny Blain (North West Neasden B player)
"Montana had 12 on Sunday ... and they could easily have got a point ... in fact they were close to going 2-1 up with 20 minutes to go.

"Could they not have got a team out for the final few games of the season?

"I think the League should have a pool of players who are not regulars who can help out (especially kids at uni)... not registered to any particular club. This would probably be an unpopular opinion, but we'd all rather play than have teams pull out or turn up with 10.

"As for the 75 per cent rule... I think it harsh that Norstar lose six points, but not sure of the other options."

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Jack Morris (Temple Fortune A assistant-manager)
"Both myself and Lee (Fegan) are very disappointed to say the least. We took six points off Montana whereas our relegation rivals only took three or four. We've worked so hard to pull away from the relegation fight and because of this we've been drawn right back in.

"It doesn't seem right, especially as the rules state 75 per cent which is 13.5 games, and they've played 13. Why should they round that figure up instead of down?

"I've spoken to Jamie at Norstar and he's just as angry as we are."

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Jeff Gotch (Norstar A player)
"I played with them for a few years and they are a great club that was run by genuine people. This decision would not have been taken lightly.

"Unfortunately I am also very unhappy about the league rules. We had four teams at the top of the league, including my club Norstar and everyone from all camps were genuinely excited about the run-in.

"This has now gone and Oakwood find themselves five points ahead of us, instead of one and we have beaten them twice this season.

"This rule needs to be looked at now over the percentage of games needed for results to stand, and I suggest changes are made for this season so the league can get back to being competitive for the run-in.

"I think league chairman David Wolff needs to speak about this sooner rather than later as it makes a mockery of the hard work done by the clubs fighting for the title.

"I went to watch Montana on Sunday lose to Neasden B and for 70 minutes of the game they always looked in it and you have to ask, if they would have come away with a result would they have stayed together?

"I honestly think if the league was to be fair that the results would stand and the remaining games they had go down as three points for the opposing team in a 0-0 victory.

"After all, we beat them 9-0, so not only have we lost out on the six points, we have also lost out on plus nine for our goal difference.

"It's a great shame and after playing in the MSFL for over 10 years I myself am getting tempted into joining Saturday football to eliminate all of this from my life."

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John Nitka (Brixton Old Boys A manager)
"It's always a shame that a team has to fold mid-season. However, even with my squad of players, situations develop whereby I just about get 12-13 players together for a game. If any of their players want to join me let them know."

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MONTANA WITHDRAWS FROM MACCABI LEAGUE

Email your thoughts to dcaro@thejc.com

Last updated: 4:54pm, February 1 2012