BRADFORD (Park Avenue) director of football Martin Knight has slammed the decision to not kick last Saturday's opponents Gateshead out of the FA Cup as "a disgrace" and "a scandal".

Avenue feel they should be Runcorn Linnets' rightful opponents in the third qualifying round, after Gateshead were found guilty by the FA of fielding an ineligible player in their 6-2 win over Mark Bower's side in the last round.

The North-East side have been fined £750, but will not be kicked out of the competition, and a furious Knight said: "It's the most incredulous decision from the FA.

"Gateshead subbed a player on in the 83rd minute, but he wasn't on their teamsheet, which makes him ineligible, it states that clearly in the FA's rules.

"We've complained to the FA about it, but they've said they're only giving them a fine, because the referee knew about it, which means we're being punished for his incompetence, and that we were 5-1 down at the time, which is irrelevant and teams have come back from that before anyway.

"We haven't even been offered a replay.

"It's a disgrace, a scandal, and then the FA have the audacity to gag me, by not letting us appeal and telling me I shouldn't speak to the media about it.

"I don't care, and you can print every word I say to you in this interview."

Knight added: "Two years ago in the FA Cup, a player got a yellow card in the previous competition, but didn't pay his £10 fine, so he got a one-match ban.

"He moved to a new club, but they didn't know about it, played him anyway, and they were kicked out for fielding an ineligible player.

"You can look back at other instances where ineligible players have caused teams to be kicked out of the FA Cup too.

"With the FA making this decision, it's a massive financial hit for us, as we'd have got over £5,000 for reaching the third qualifying round, and it would have been quite a soft draw for us at a team lower down the pyramid in Runcorn Linnets too."

An FA spokesperson said: “Gateshead FC admitted to fielding an ineligible player against Bradford (Park Avenue) and the matter was subsequently considered by an FA Challenge Cup Sub-Committee in accordance with the competition’s rules. 

“Having reviewed all of the available evidence thoroughly from all relevant parties, the Sub-Committee applied a sanction which it deemed appropriate for this type of rule breach.

“It is important to note that all correspondence in relation to this decision was marked private and confidential as standard. 

“However, The FA has not prohibited any participants involved from approaching the media

“There is no right of appeal against a decision of the Sub-Committee in accordance with the Competition’s Rules.”