DORCHESTER will retain their Dorset Funeral Plan Premier League title following a Dorset Cricket Board (DCB) investigation into late umpire reports last season.
It means the county town side’s hat-trick of titles in Dorset’s top tier remains intact and four other clubs in the division will escape points sanctions for the 2021 season.
Last November, Echosport exclusively revealed how seven Premier League clubs had submitted late umpire reports last season.
League rules state that teams are punished with a £30 fine for the first offence and five points for each subsequent rule break.
Leaked documents showed that Dorchester had submitted three late reports, leading to a 10-point deduction - in theory.
This would have been enough to demote them to second place behind Poole, who lost out on the title by just four points after the final match.
Martinstown and Sherborne filed four late reports each and, had the sanctions been applied, would have dropped one place to fourth and sixth respectively after 15-point penalties.
Wimborne & Colehill, Cattistock & Symene plus Christchurch also handed in late reports but would not have lost any positions if penalties were dished out.
Bere Regis and Poole were the only teams to have a clean record.
Echosport also obtained a leaked email written by the Dorset Association of Cricket Officials (DACO) showing a direct attempt to notify Dorset Cricket League chiefs after penalties were not applied.
The DCB investigation, led by Tom Snape, concluded that no amendments should be made to the 2021 final table as the incident “was an administrative fault of the League committee and therefore potential mitigating circumstances were not considered and cannot be considered retrospectively”.
In an official statement from the Dorset Cricket League management committee, the organisation "sincerely" apologised for not applying the penalties.
It read: “The Dorset Cricket League (DCL) Management Committee accept and welcome the findings and conclusions in the investigation, conducted by Tom Snape of the Dorset Cricket Board, on the subject of late submission of umpires reports during the 2021 season.
“DCL accept the finding that no suitable process for monitoring the timely submission of reports was in place, the consequence of which was that, following the resignation of the DCL Secretary in October 2020, no individual, or group of committee members, was responsible for spotting late reports and issuing the appropriate sanctions.
“DCL welcome the recommendation that a robust process, automated where possible and agreed between the DCL management committee and the Dorset Association of Cricket Officials (DACO) committee, must be in place before the start of the 2022 season.
“We appreciate that not applying sanctions retrospectively will disappoint and upset some players, officials and supporters of some clubs and we sincerely apologise to them for that, but we accept the reasons why it would not be appropriate to do so.
“Once agreed, we will inform clubs of the new process for checking submission time of umpires reports and other administrative tasks undertaken by clubs to ensure the smooth running of the league.”
Previously, the DCB had dismissed Echosport's report, which contained 10 leaked documents, as "unsubstantiated".
However, the DCB now admits an "administrative fault" was to blame for the late reports.
What did the DCB investigation find?
TOM Snape broke his report into five key sections.
The first outlined that rules on late umpire reports would apply to Premier League clubs only, rather than Division One teams.
This is due to some Division One matches having either one or no umpires last season.
Section two highlighted the absence of communication within the DCL.
Snape's investigation highlighted how DACO contacted a league committee member on October 15 but the league committee again was not informed.
Late umpire reports sometimes were not checked until Thursdays - two days after the deadline - resulting in the committee only becoming aware of the issue on November 12, five days before the Echosport article was published.
Section three conceded that no clear role for checking umpire reports was designated in 2021 and that late reports had not regularly been checked since October 2020.
Sections four and five concluded that no adequate process for checking umpire reports is currently in place.
It recommends that the process for late umpire reports becomes more "robust" and "largely automated" to trigger alert emails to clubs and officials for the 2022 season.
Lack of communication between DACO and the DCL committee and understanding of roles during the current process was also highlighted by the investigation.
Scrapping points deductions for late umpire reports is also mooted, with an increased fine being the primary alternative.
Section 5d carries the glaring admission from the DCB that "this was an administrative fault of the League committee and therefore potential mitigating circumstances were not considered and cannot be considered retrospectively".
This effectively rules out any change to the 2021 Premier League table, or penalties being carried into the 2022 season.
Clubs have also been asked to review their processes for submitting umpire reports, should unforeseen circumstances arise.