Northampton Town plan to lodge a formal complaint with the English Football League because they believe Scunthorpe United’s team selection at Bristol Rovers compromised the integrity of the final day in League Two, which saw Rovers beat Northampton to the final automatic promotion place on goals scored.
It is understood Northampton, who won 3-1 at Barrow last Saturday, have raised concerns with the EFL and the Football Association about the circumstances surrounding a wild final day. Rovers were promoted on goals scored, with their 71 superior to Northampton’s 60, after the clubs finished level on points and goal difference. Northampton face Mansfield in the playoff semi-final first leg on Saturday.
Rovers went into the final day needing to overturn Northampton’s five-goal advantage and scored five second-half goals to win 7-0 at home to Scunthorpe, who named seven teenagers in their starting lineup and four players from their Under-18s side, including 17-year-old first-year scholar goalkeeper Owen Foster. Scunthorpe were relegated last month and finished the season with four wins, one of which was away from home.
Scunthorpe made three changes from their previous game against Hartlepool, with second-year scholar Oliver Lobley, whose own goal gave Rovers the lead at the Memorial Stadium, making his league debut. As at home to Hartlepool, Liam Feeney, 36, and Anthony Grant, 34, started on the substitutes’ bench. The average age of the starting lineup was 20.
EFL guidance states that from the fourth Thursday in March, any team sheet for a league game should include at least 10 outfield players who featured on the team sheet for the previous league game. Scunthorpe adhered to such instruction.
Rovers will be investigated by the FA for the pitch invasion which occurred in the 85th minute following their seventh goal. The Scunthorpe manager, Keith Hill, said his team were “hopeless” in defeat and declined to discuss whether his goalkeeper was punched by a home fan during the pitch invasion on 85 minutes.
“I don’t really want to talk about it,” he said. “The referee’s done a report and I want to leave it with them. I don’t want to spoil what is a tremendous day for Bristol Rovers and Joey. About the health and safety of me and my staff in my technical area during the course of the game, and with respect to what did happen, the referee is going to file a report to the FA.”
Scunthorpe and the EFL have been approached for comment. The latter has said that if it does receive a formal complaint, it would ask all parties for observations and then consider if there has been any breaches of its regulations.