SUNDERLAND have been fined just £1,500 by the Football Association for a signing they made nearly 18 months ago.

Irish midfielder Sean Thornton arrived at the Stadium of Light in July last year after his contract at Tranmere Rovers ran out.

Rovers claimed at the time that Sunderland should pay compensation for a 19-year-old who was regarded as the Prenton Park outfit's prize asset.

After much deliberation, Sunderland have been cleared of two breaches of the rule book and they have not been asked to pay Tranmere's demands of compensation.

Sunderland have been asked to pay the £1,500 fine, though, because of a technicality relating to the player's paper work.

Vice-chairman at the Stadium of Light John Fickling said: "We are pleased that the matter has been finally resolved."

Tranmere, meanwhile, are seething with the outcome and chairperson Lorraine Rogers said: "The time it has taken the FA to reach a decision and the paltry level of the fine show that our regulatory system isn't working.

"We have had to wait too long for a decision and this level of penalty obviously won't be a deterrent.

"Small clubs with successful youth development programmes are not being adequately protected - good young players can simply be picked off by bigger clubs and football's governing body will let it happen.

"There should be meaningful guideline penalties in place to stop clubs manipulating the contract system.

"We will be asking the FA and The Football League to give this further consideration."

Sunderland manager Mick McCarthy is sweating on the fitness of striker Kevin Kyle ahead of Saturday's trip to Crewe.

Kyle is still suffering pain from a hip injury sustained in Scotland Under-21s' European Championship qualifier with Croatia on Tuesday night.

And now Black Cats boss McCarthy looks like being without the towering young frontman for the Black Cats' trip to Gresty Road.

The Sunderland boss already has doubts over the fitness of midfielders Colin Healy and Alan Quinn as well as influential centre-back Gary Breen.

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