Sunderland fined over Ji Dong-Won - should they lose points?
Relegation-threatened Black Cats escape points deduction despite fielding ineligible player
SUNDERLAND have been fined for fielding an ineligible player in four league matches at the start of the season. Striker Ji Dong-Won played against Fulham, Southampton, Crystal Palace and Manchester United before the Black Cats realised their bureaucratic blunder in October. The North East club immediately alerted the Premier League that they had made an administrative error and were slapped with a heavy fine as a punishment for their oversight.
According to the BBC, Sunderland had not got international clearance for the 22-year-old Ji, who joined the club for an undisclosed fee from South Korean side Chunnam Dragons in the summer of 2011, but had been sent out on loan to German club Augsburg in 2012-13. The BBC explains that the Black Cats "did not realise they needed to seek international clearance for a second time when he returned to England", and that Ji should not have featured in any matches before written confirmation was received from the German Football Association.
The Times says that the fine imposed on Sunderland was "a hefty six-figure" penalty but the club was more relieved not to be deducted any points by the Premier League given their precarious position at the bottom of the table. The paper adds that the sanction, which was not publicised by either the governing body or the club, "is certain to come under scrutiny from Sunderland's relegation rivals".
Sunderland earned only one league point with Ji in the side, a 1-1 draw away at Southampton, and FA rules state that "any club found to have played an ineligible player in a match shall have points gained from that match deducted from its record and have levied upon it a fine".
In addition, Ji helped Sunderland to a 4-2 victory over the MK Dons in the League Cup second round, a competition which the Black Cats went on to reach the final of, losing to Man City at Wembley last month.
According to The Sun the MK Dons aren't happy with the revelation that they lost to a side containing an ineligible player and a club spokesman told the paper they "will be speaking to the Football League in order to gain a greater understanding of the situation".
Ji is no longer at the Stadium of light, having rejoined Augsburg on loan in January and subsequently signing a permanent deal with Borussia Dortmund for next season. The other leading figure in the fiasco, the then club secretary Liz Coley, has also left Sunderland "to take up alternative employment".