ACCRINGTON STANLEY'S slim play-off hopes have been hit by the news that Exeter City will not face a points deduction for going into administration.
Stanley chairman Eric Whalley was livid after the Nationwide Conference decided - on legal advice - to postpone the so called 'Sporting Sanctions' rule for clubs going into administration from being applied this season.
Play-off contenders Exeter, relegated from Division Three last May, faced the threat losing 12 points and a fine but were taking the Conference to court over the issue.
This was despite the 'Sporting Sanctions' rule being passed democratically by all Conference clubs at an AGM before the start of the season.
However, the Conference's lawyers have advised that - rather than expend energy and money on defending the technical points raised by Exeter on the way the rule was passed - it was better to address the future and resubmit the rule. Each Conference club could have faced a legal bill of £35,000.
"It is a disgrace," fumed the Stanley chairman. "It's a whitewash. When we went out of business in 1962 we had debts of £63,000 and Exeter were the other club involved with debts of £44,000. We were forced to resign from the league, they somehow survived and now they have debts of £4.8m.
"We voted for the 'Sporting Sanctions' rule unanimously at the start of the season and spent four hours in a meeting about it. It was all for nothing. Exeter have found a loophole and the Conference have washed their hands of it. It is not about Exeter's playing ability it is a moral issue. I am disgusted."
However, Exeter still face the possibility of a fine and losing points if they are found to have fielded an ineligible player in Dwayne Lee. The Conference, though, have passed the matter to the FA to investigate because four of the six clubs represented on the board had an interest with their teams chasing the play-offs. An early decision is expected.
Meanwhile, the Stanley chairman is also furious after the Reds were fined £50 for wearing their third strip - the blue one - against Leigh RMI.
"They said we hadn't notified them. I am not paying it - it is ridiculous," added Whalley.