The FAI have confirmed that eircom Premier League leaders St Patrick's Athletic will be docked nine points for fielding an ineligible player. The Saints were initially punished with a £1,000 fine, rather than the maximum penalty of a nine-point deduction for playing the unregistered Paul Marney in three games at the start of this season. Although his registration papers had been sent to the eircom League, under rule 16a all player registrations must be sent by registered post.

However, Shelbourne, one of the clubs involved in these games, appealed the ruling, insisting that the League did not have the authority to reduce the penalty and that Saints be punished fully. The FAI upheld their appeal at a meeting of the FAI Appeal Board last night and consequently, St Pat's total of 18 points has been reduced to nine points, leaving them in the bottom half of the table. St Pat's have refused to comment on the decision and are now believed to be seeking legal advice over the matter with the final outcome on the situation possibly heading for the courts.

Filed by Amanda Fennelly