Dominic Matteo joined Sunderland on loan and played in a match against Barnsley in March 1995 but it later transpired that his registration had not been completed. Sir Bob recalls the incident and how avoiding a points deduction at the time was vital.
“The Dominic Matteo mix up was a case of Sunderland having to get out of jail. I didn’t find out until after the match what had happened, and until the Matteo case there had never been an example of a club not getting fined and docked points for fielding an illegible player in a competitive match.
“We couldn’t afford to get docked any points at the time as a reduction could have resulted in relegation, which would have disastrous. I had a good reputation in football so decided to personally go and face the music at the FA and to argue Sunderland’s case. It was not a meeting I’d like to repeat but thankfully we made a strong case and avoided a points deduction.”