WINTON secretary Brian Dobson has vowed to appeal the club’s 50-point penalty in the Dorset Funeral Plan Premier League – a deduction that leaves the newcomers staring relegation in the face.

The Dorset Cricket Board imposed the sanction as Winton do not have two youth teams competing between under-nine and under-15 level, but Dobson says that the club does have youth teams and that the rules do not state they have to play in league competition.

Dobson said: “We have an under-16 team but there is no under-16 league. The rules said that the requirements were between under-11 and under-16 at the start of the season but they have been amended.

“We do have two youth teams but they are not ready to play competitive cricket – we need to develop and I don’t believe it is safe to do so without the lads learning the proper drills. We don’t want to expose them to risk so we’re making sure they compete safely next year.

“The rules state that we have to have two youth teams, not that they have to play competitively.

“I don’t understand the 50-point penalty – we are either in breach of the rules, which means we should be relegated, or we’re not and there is no sanction. I have contacted the board and we’re awaiting a response.”

Some of Winton’s players had considered boycotting the competition over the decision, but in the end they decided to play on, registering a 61-run win over Weymouth with an impressive display.

Dobson added: “We did have an issue at the weekend but the boys came round. I can understand it, though. You’ve got people who are very competitive and they want to stay up or get relegated on merit – thankfully the lads came round and played very well.”

Rule 1 of Appendix A states: “A Premier League club must run at least two youth teams at ages between under-nine and under-15.”

John Ridout of the Dorset Cricket Board said: “Quite simply, the conditions set for promotion weren’t followed up. The 50-point penalty (rather than automatic relegation) recognises that Winton have made progress.”

In response to the rules not stating youth teams had to compete, Ridout added: “Brian (Dobson) was at the meeting in October where he understood and accepted what was required.”

Winton play at relegation rivals Stalbridge next weekend, a match that will take on greater significance if their appeal is successful.