Barnsley have been kicked out of the FA Cup for fielding an ineligible player in their first-round replay win at non-league Horsham.
The seventh-tier side will now play League Two Sutton United in round two.
The League One Tykes had won the replay 3-0 last week after drawing 3-3 in the initial tie at Oakwell.
“We would like to apologise to our fans, players and staff for this regrettable error,” they said in a statement on the club website.external-link
Although Barnsley have not named the player, Football Association rules state only players who are eligible for the initial FA Cup tie can feature in a replay.
Forward Aiden Marsh was on loan at National League side York City when the first game took place on 3 November, before being recalled three days later. The 20-year-old then started in the replay in West Sussex on 14 November.
“This mistake – although unintentional – falls way below the high standards we set at this club and is simply not what you deserve,” Barnsley’s statement added.
“We have already conducted a full internal investigation and have subsequently put safeguards in place to ensure this will never happen again.”
Barnsley can appeal, but the Tykes said they had accepted the decision.
The ruling means Isthmian League Premier Division side Horsham will now play in the second round of the FA Cup for only the second time in their history.
Horsham chairman Kevin Borrett told BBC Radio Surrey: “I’m really pleased for our club – also real sympathy for Barnsley as well. Their supporters will be distraught and I do wish them well.
“The Barnsley chair and I had a number of conversations over the weekend in the course of their preparation of the response to the FA charge.
“As clubs I think we have got on tremendously well across both ties and the supporters have got together on a couple of things and there is a real rapport between them as well.”
He added: “Lets take nothing away from Sutton, they are a strong team, they are a league team so we will go there as underdogs but we will go with an attitude that it is there to be won.
“I don’t think Sutton will be taking this game for granted at all.”
Bury were the last club expelled from the competition at the first-round stage or beyond in 2006, when the then League Two side fielded Hartlepool loanee Stephen Turnbull without the proper authorisation in a second-round replay victory over Chester.
Chester were reinstated and went on to lose to Ipswich after a third-round replay.
Droylsden, in 2010-11, and Bradford City, in 2012-13, were also removed, but were both allowed back in after an appeal.
‘Perplexing’ how error can have happened
Analysis – Andy Giddings, BBC Radio Sheffield
Whilst admin errors like this are not unique in football it’s still strangely perplexing why they happen at all, and the anger and embarrassment felt by the fans – particularly those that went to Horsham for the replay, and no doubt some of the club officials, including the guilty party – is understandable.
But to be fair to Barnsley they co-operated with the FA’s investigation, owned up, and resolved to avoid such a mistakes again. There’s not a great deal else you can do. At least it’s all happened quickly.
Good luck to Horsham at Sutton, no doubt the winner will land a plum tie in the third round of the FA Cup which will lead to more flack for the Reds.