The Scottish Highland Football League

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Highland Pyramid Playoff Cancelled - SHFL Statement
 ‘The Highland League is extremely disappointed to have been informed by Fort William FC that the club is to withdraw from the Highland Football Pyramid playoff matches versus Banks o’Dee FC.

The League has been engaged in discussions with Fort William FC during the course of this week and these discussions have centred on two issues.

The first, and most significant, relates to player eligibility to take part in the playoffs.

Competition rules were published in July 2021 and state clearly that, to be eligible to take part in the playoffs, a player must be registered by the club by 31st January. In the case of Fort William FC, three of the twelve players who took part in the Breedon Highland League match at Rothes on Tuesday 19th April 2022 were therefore ineligible for the playoffs.

Central to this is the fact that the club’s first choice goalkeeper had returned home to Poland and his replacement was registered on 31st March 2022. This meant that the club felt it did not have enough goalkeepers for the playoffs as well as having few outfield players. So, on Wednesday 20th April 2022, it requested dispensation to play all three players in the playoffs.

Research by the League’s Secretariat uncovered the fact that Fort William FC had at that date 5 players registered who were described as goalkeepers. Consequently, the League’s Office Bearers declined dispensation for all three players and the club was informed accordingly.

During the course of Thursday and Friday, discussions continued and the club then submitted a second request for dispensation with regard to the goalkeeper signed on 31st March 2022. Research by the League’s Secretariat indicated that one of the goalkeepers had been deregistered but four remained on the books so the request for dispensation was denied.

Subsequent discussions with the manager led to the conclusion that club personnel were unaware of the existence of one of the two remaining goalkeepers. The Secretary suggested that this needed checking out. The League was then informed that it appears that this person was unknown to club management and is a member of the armed forces currently away on duty. This had not been included in the second request for dispensation.

The second issue relates to the condition of Claggan Park. It had been decided that, given the events of the season, a pitch and ground inspection should take place to confirm it as a venue for the second leg of the playoffs. That inspection was carried out by a representative of the League who is also a retired referee on the morning of Friday 22nd April and raised some concerns. The Club was informed of these concerns and advised of a way ahead. It was recommended that the club roll the pitch, cut the grass and line it as if for a match, and a further inspection would be undertaken on Tuesday 26th April and all concerned were optimistic about a positive outcome. In discussions, it was apparent that the club was reluctant to accept that advice.

Discussions continued throughout Friday and were effectively closed by Fort William FC when it decided to withdraw from the playoffs.’

Statement ends

For further comment, contact SHFL Secretary Rod Houston on 07876-761233
News Date 22/04/2022