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Newark Flowserve's FA Vase dream turns into nightmare

Newark Flowserve’s Lowfields ground where floodlights are being installed this week.
Newark Flowserve’s Lowfields ground where floodlights are being installed this week.

Newark Flowserve have been thrown out of the FA Vase — just as they were about to make their debut in the national competition.

The club, promoted to step six this season and still unbeaten, had been planning to host Harrowby United at Lowfields on Saturday in the first qualifying round of the tournament that ends with a Wembley final.

But the Football Association has ruled that the East Midlands Counties League club did not install its floodlights before the end of July — a deadline the club was not made aware of.

The floodlights are being put up this week and would have been available for the cup tie — and a month ahead of a league deadline.

The club has made several improvements to Lowfields as it moved up to step six football after winning promotion from the Notts Senior League.

Flowserve are among several clubs that have been withdrawn from the competition by the FA at the last minute.

Flowserve chairman Gary Clarke said the club was made aware of the decision on Friday and appealed, but that was rejected on Tuesday afternoon.

Clarke said yesterday: "I am gutted, but as chairman of the football club I would like to apologise to the spectators, the players, the managers and backroom staff, the football club as a whole, and those who give up their valuable time to support us.

"We have spent the last few days trying to get some clarity.

"When we were awarded the FA ground grading category H in March (to play in step six) we became eligible to enter the 2018-19 Buildbase FA Vase.

"A condition of this grading was the installation of floodlighting to an approved standard, with a deadline set by the FA of September 30.

"We made our plans accordingly."

The club said in August it was made aware that floodlights needed to be available for Vase matches.

Clarke said: "We made further arrangements to ensure the floodlights would be installed and commissioned before the first qualifying round on September 1.

"Those of you who have been to Lowfields over the weekend (when Flowserve beat West Bridgford 4-1) will have seen the foundations and cabling in place for the columns.

"These will be installed later this week, together with the generator, followed by the commissioning of the lights.

"Our planning ensured we would have met all of the conditions required to host the tie.

"We put this information to the FA, but our appeal was turned down.

"While it is clear to us that the decision and announcement were poorly timed and unfair, we have no option but to announce that our eagerly-anticipated game this weekend will not be played."

Clarke said Flowserve would continue to investigate what had happened.

"We will maintain a dialogue with the FA and, in due course, issue a further statement."

An FA spokesman said: "The club were withdrawn from the competition as their ground does not fully conform to the requirements of the H grade of the FA National League System Ground Grading, which is a requirement of the competition entry criteria and also the competition rules."

The Vase blow also means that Flowserve’s plans to enter the FA Cup next season cannot go ahead.

Joint manager Craig Roche said before the news of the withdrawal: "It (the FA Vase) is a prestigious competition, and the dream is there at the end of the road.

"You have got that opportunity of playing against some big sides and, if you go all the way, you are at Wembley.

"It is the only dream (of playing at Wembley) we can have at this level of football."

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