Not guilty, but pay the costs, was virtually the sentiment at a special meeting of the American Soccer League held at Providence on Wednesday night, at which time the decision in the Bethlehem-Boston fiasco was aired in open meeting. Bethlehem was the club not guilty, but forced to forfeit its right to compete in the final.
The decision of the president was upheld and as a result Boston, winner of the final against New Bedford, is proclaimed the league champion, a title that was won on a technicality rather than on a display of merit. In the entire proceedings Bethlehem is the "goat."
According to Bethlehem's representatives present at the meeting, informal discussion prior to the session indicated convincingly that sentiment was with the Steelmen but when brought to a vote the majority cast their ballot in upholding the decision of the president.
From what can be learned the issues involved were very little discussed in opening but rather the action taken was apparently pre-arranged in the preliminary discussions. Bethlehem presumed its side of the case and it is understood the league secretary, Dave Scott, confessed that the entire proceedings eliminating Bethlehem from the playoffs was due to his mistake and even the president it is said intimated that perhaps he had made a wrong decision.
When pointing out that the rules provided for a replay where a game was declared no contest because of an ineligible player, the league executives explained that the forfeit was declared due to the lateness of the season and the little time remaining to include a replay.
Details of the meeting received here as yet have been quite meager but it is said that when the representatives gathered in opening meeting and prior to vote, it was generally understood that to overrule the decision would mean the resignation of the president and contending that there had been enough discord in the ranks for one season and anxious to close up business for the year, the vote cast was six to uphold the decision, two against and three representatives did not vote.
Relative to including the fifth team in the replay nothing definite could be ascertained on the discussion and it was quickly dropped.
Although Bethlehem was denied the privilege of appearing in the final, the club can well rest on the laurels of having defeated decisively the team that finally emerged to the title.