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Banning of FC United founder was ‘flawed’ and ‘unfair’

Submitted by on June 15, 2016 – 4:20 pmNo Comment

A black FC

FC United bosses were wrong to ban the club’s founder and owe him an apology, according to an independent report into the blocking of his membership.

JP O’Neill was blocked from rejoining the club he helped create following a decision by FC’s general manager Andy Walsh to ask the board to ‘consider’ his application last year – a process the independent arbitrator ruled as ‘flawed’, ‘inappropriate’ and ‘unfair’.

The report by Nick Eyre, instigated after agreement from all parties in an attempt to settle the matter, states: “JPN’s previous rejection should not stand; he was let down by the process and I believe the [FC United] Board should be open about this and issue an apology in that respect.”

Furthermore, Eyre notes that the club’s democratic rules had not been adhered to, as he says: “At no point is there a minuted finding that JPN should be denied membership; it is, therefore, unclear whether a properly convened Board meeting (or appropriately convened delegated body) ever reached this decision before its communication to JPN.”

Eyre’s report adds: “If The General Manager, who…had evident issues with JPN, but who was not a director, was a party to any decision to exclude JPN, I would regard that as wholly inappropriate.”

General manager Walsh, who has led the club since its inception in 2005, is set to leave at the end of June after coming under fire from the club’s fans following a series of unpopular decisions, divisive actions and mishaps he has presided over in the past year. As a result of previous remarks made by club officials, the club had already apologised to O’Neill in April for causing a ‘mistaken impression of threats’.

The club’s current board, which contains none of those involved in O’Neill’s original banning, issued the following statement following the release of the report’s findings: “JP O’Neill’s previous membership application rejection does not stand. He was let down by the process and for that the Board apologise to him.

“The Board, of course, accept the ruling from the independent arbitration process and will abide by the recommendations. The full ruling has been placed in the member’s area of the official website.

“We’d like to thank all parties for their time and efforts to take part in the arbitration process.

“Looking back, we accept that mistakes were made. We hope that all members can draw confidence from such a thorough, balanced and independent review. The ruling will help the Club learn and improve how we handle disputes in the future. We very much hope that everybody can now move on for the ultimate good of the Club.

“In fact, we have listened to members who voted overwhelmingly at the General Meeting for the Board to make meaningful moves to heal the rifts that have developed within the Club’s support. We are making arrangements for the Rochdale friendly that we hope will start the process – we will bring you more detail on this during the next few days.”

Only members of FC United will be able to read the full report, which is available in the co-owners section of the club’s website fc-utd.co.uk

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