BRADFORD (Park Avenue) boss Mark Bower has blasted the FA's decision to reject the club's appeal against a fine of more than £7,500 for failing to fulfil three fixtures last season.

Avenue were charged with three breaches of the National League rules for failing to fulfil fixtures against Blyth Spartans, Farsley Celtic and Hereford on February 6, 9 and 13 in Vanarama National League North.

The National League temporarily suspended the Step 2 competition with immediate effect for two weeks until February 6. This was subject to any decision being made to end the season early, fixtures after

February 6 would be effective. The National League North season was declared null and void on February 18 due to the pandemic.

An independent panel found Avenue to be in breach of its rules and imposed a sanction of £2,000 per breach for a total fine of £6,000. This is topped up by a further £1,600 after the club was ordered to pay costs.

Bower branded the decision a 'bitter pill to swallow', but added the club is now keen to put it behind them.

Avenue's squad is back in pre-season training today as they gear up for the start of the new season on August 14.

Bower said: "The fine added insult to injury.

"I was really disappointed. At the time we were seeing the good from people coming together, people making sacrifices, ultimately to try to get ourselves back to normal. This decision seems completely contradictory to that.

"We were very honest about the position we were in as a club at that time.

It will have a big impact on my squad through no fault of our own. The fine is a player out of my squad, a first-team starter

"There is no point in moaning about it. We have got to crack on and put it behind us, get out there and play."

In its summary, the FA's independent appeal board, which met on June 9, said: "The club (Avenue) did not place its financial information before the panel to demonstrate financial reasons why it was unable to play the fixtures.

"It was not the obligation of the league or the panel to identify previous correspondence or information provided by the club and decide what should be deployed in support of the Club’s case.

"The panel imposed a fine of £2,000 for each breach which was less than the lowest end of the guidelines. Such a fine could not be described as excessive."

But the appeal board added: "The club contends that it has struggled financially as a result of the pandemic and it reached the decision not to play the fixtures as a result of the absence of grant funding after December 2020 and the inability to access other funds quickly or at all."

Avenue were one of 11 National League clubs to have their appeals rejected earlier this month. The other sides included Darlington, Curzon Ashton and Bath City.

Meanwhile, Jack Pearce has been appointed as the new chairman of the National League.

Bower also paid further tribute to Avenue stalwart Colin Barker who died earlier this month.

He said: "Colin was a constant. What a hole he leaves at the club.

"It won't be the same without him here. We will really miss him. He was Bradford (Park Avenue) to the core."