UPDATE: AFC Rushden & Diamonds win Dale Roberts shirt appeal

AFC Rushden & Diamonds goalkeeper Matt Finlay wearing the number 17 jersey on Tuesday night
AFC Rushden & Diamonds goalkeeper Matt Finlay wearing the number 17 jersey on Tuesday night
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AFC Rushden & Diamonds have won their battle to ‘retire’ their number 1 goalkeeper shirt for this season.

The club had previously been told that such a move contravened the rules of the Evo-Stik League Southern Division Central, where Diamonds are playing this season.

The club appealed against the ruling to the Football Association, which has today given the club the right not to use the number 1 jersey.

Diamonds stopped using the shirt number after their goalkeeper Dale Roberts took his own life in 2010.

A statement from the club says: “Further to the appeal to the Football Association against the decision made by the Southern League to not provide special dispensation and allow the club to retire the number 1 shirt, the board of AFC Rushden & Diamonds are delighted to announce that special dispensation has been granted for the remainder of the 2015-16 season.

“The FA Appeal Board recommended that an appropriate way forward would be for consultation to commence amongst the member clubs as to whether a squad numbering system should be introduced with a view to a proposal being presented at the Annual General Meeting ahead of the 2016-17 season.

“The FA Appeal Board noted that the Southern League had correctly applied the application of Rule 7.1 as stated and agreed at the Southern League Annual General Meeting.

“However, the panel also noted that this was an extremely emotive case, and considered that given that both sides were prepared to work together to achieve a satisfactory outcome for all member clubs of the Southern Football League, the application for special dispensation should be upheld for the period of time appropriate to allow this consultation to take place.

“The club would like to state on record its gratitude to both the Southern Football League and the Football Association for their willingness to work together to honour Dale’s memory.

“The club would also like to thank the members, supporters and the whole footballing community for their overwhelming support.

“All monies raised to cover any potential fines will be donated to the Dale Roberts Memorial Fund.

“Finally the club would like to put on record it’s unerring gratitude to both Isabel and George Roberts for their support during this difficult time.

“We look forward to their next visit to the Dog and Duck for the forthcoming Dale Roberts Memorial Match.”