How did Liverpool FC escape league cup expulsion for fielding an ineligible player?

Published 04 October 2019 By: Ashley Cukier

Football Player

The English Football League (EFL) yesterday announced1 that Liverpool FC had been found guilty of misconduct and fined £200,000 – of which £100,000 will be suspended until the end of Season 2020/21 – for having breached EFL Rules by fielding an ineligible player in their League Cup third round match against Milton Keynes Dons. The sanction has raised eyebrows in some parts: in 2016 the EFL, in an ostensibly more severe sanction, deducted 3 points2 from Bury FC for fielding an ineligible player and, as recently as last month, Grays Athletic FC were expelled3 from the FA Cup for the same offence.


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Ashley Cukier

Ashley Cukier

Barrister, Littlton Chambers

Ashley is a commercial barrister whose practice encompasses a wide range of commercial and civil fraud litigation, company, insolvency and sports law matters. He is ranked by Legal 500 as one of the ‘Top 10 Under Eight Years’ Call’ for Commercial Litigation, where he is described as “Assured and skilful, an eloquent orator on his feet, and trusted by our team”. Ashley was called to the Bar in 2013 after graduating top of his year at Cambridge University, where he was awarded a starred first.

Ashley is regularly instructed in commercial disputes in the Commercial Court and Chancery Division, both led and as sole counsel. He has appeared in the Court of Appeal and the Privy Council and regularly appears in FA Rule K Arbitrations and before other sports arbitral panels. He speaks several languages and is often sought out to assist on cases containing international elements and/or involving questions of foreign law, jurisdiction and enforcement.

Sports law work forms an increasingly prominent part of Ashley’s practice. His current and recent sports law work includes:

  • Acting as sole counsel in three (ongoing) FA Rule K Football Arbitrations;
  • Successfully representing the former Australia football team captain, James Troisi, in the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne (led by John Mehrzad) in a claim (on appeal from a FIFA Tribunal) for non-payment by the player’s Saudi former club, Al-Ittihad;
  • Acting for the successful claimant (a prominent FA Registered Intermediary) in a Rule K claim against a former client (an international footballer) for unpaid commission;
  • Acting for the respondent to a National Anti-Doping charge, brought by the Rugby Football Union;
  • Acting for the respondent to a Misconduct charge brought by a National Sporting Body (ongoing);
  • Advising a La Liga footballer in respect of a breach of contract claim brought against him by a former agent, involving complex issues of jurisdiction and governing law.
  • Advising a National Sporting Body in respect of its selection procedures for Team GB athletes, both in the run-up to, and subsequent to, the Rio Olympics 2016

Ashley is a member of the Table Tennis England Board of Appeal, and was recently appointed to the Sports Resolutions Panel of Arbitrators and Mediators.


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