OWNER Mike Kearns has apologised after St Neots Town were yesterday thrown out of the UCL League Cup for fielding an ineligible player in their 2-1 quarter-final win over King’s Lynn Town on March 19.

OWNER Mike Kearns has apologised after St Neots Town were today thrown out of the UCL League Cup for fielding an ineligible player in their 2-1 quarter-final win over King's Lynn Town on March 19.

League chiefs decided the punishment when they met last night – a week after Saints had contacted them to admit that new signing Gavin Strachan, who scored the winner in that match, was still registered with former club Hinckley United and wasn't eligible to play.

Neots had been under the impression that Strachan's contract had been cancelled and ratified by the FA the day before the game on Friday, March 18, but later discovered it did not go through until Monday, March 21.

As a result, King's Lynn have now been reinstated in the competition and will face St Ives Town in a midweek semi-final at Westwood Road, although a date for that match has yet to be announced.

Kearns said: “I would like to apologise to the players and supporters for depriving them of a chance to progress in another cup competition.

“I take full responsibility for this mistake and hope to ensure this never happens again.

“Although one thing I want to make clear is that this is not a case of being found out – far from it.

“It was a genuine mistake and, the moment we found out on the Monday, we owned up to it and we were commended by the league for our honesty.

“We're upset that we're not in another semi-final, we could easily have handled it with our fixture schedule between now and the end of the season.”

Kearns also confirmed that the club were not fined.

Saints manager Dennis Greene said: “We got what we expected really and there can be no complaints.

“We fielded an ineligible player and the rules clearly state that the consequence of that is being removed from the competition.

“We phoned the league and told them our position and they said that, had we not told them, they'd have been none the wiser - and thanked us.

“Ultimately, we were never going to let it go - and hope we'd get away with it - and then get found out that we hadn't been honest, further down the line.

“But we're not going to let it side-track us from what we're trying to achieve this season, which is promotion.

“We'll just take it on the chin and move on.”