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The BBC's Gordon Farquar
"The referee's decision has to be final"
 real 28k

The FA's Adrian Bevington
Reads the official statement
 real 28k

Sunderland boss Peter Reid
"It's not the right decison from Sunderland's point of view"
 real 28k

Monday, 10 January, 2000, 17:43 GMT
Tranmere cup victory stands

Reid Sunderland boss Peter Reid was furious

The Football Association has ruled that Tranmere Rovers will not have to replay their controversial FA Cup tie with Sunderland.

First Division Rovers escaped punishment despite substituting a sent-off player in the closing stages of Saturday's 1-0 win.

Allison Wayne Allison celebrates the winning goal
The FA's Challenge Cup Committee could have ordered the match to be replayed but after meeting on Monday decided John Aldridge's side had not "knowingly and deliberately distorted the outcome of the game".

Sunderland boss Peter Reid accepted the decision with good grace.

"It's not the right decision from Sunderland Football Club's point of view but we abide by that decision and so be it.

"Good luck to John and his side and all the best at Fulham."

FA said spokesman Adrian Bevington said the committee had made a distinction between the rules of the competition and the laws of the game.

"Competition rules relates to organisation; matters such as who is eligible to play and extra-time arrangements.

The referee's decisions are final and for the good of the game they have to be accepted
FA spokesman Adrian Bevington
"These are matters for the organisers of the competition.

"Meanwhile, the laws of the game are the same worldwide. The referee is the sole arbiter of these laws.

"What happened on Saturday clearly relates to the laws of the game rather than competition rules."

"Referees and match officials are under considerable pressure, not least in high profile cup ties.

"Their decisions on the laws of the game are final and for the good of the game they have to be accepted."

The committee considered reports from referee Rob Harris and other match officials as well as from the two clubs concerned before making their decision.

Next stop, Fulham

Tranmere will now meet First Division rivals Fulham in the fifth round on either January 29 or 30.

The farcical situation arose in stoppage time at Prenton Park when Tranmere fielded 11 players instead of 10 after a substitution mix-up.

The Merseysiders had defender Clint Hill sent off for a second bookable offence - but no other player was taken off when the substitution of Stephen Frail was made.

Neither referee Harris nor any of the three other officials present, noticed the error until 20 seconds after the fourth-round tie had resumed.

By that time Andy Parkinson, the player who should have left the field, had helped his team-mates defend a corner.

Tranmere blamed confusion on the touchline which led to an official displaying the shirt number of Hill rather than Parkinson as the player to be substituted.

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Links to other Football stories are at the foot of the page.