Thursday, January 14, 2010

The eyecatching result of the Scottish Cup Fourth Round matches, that have so far been able to have been played, was Dunfermline Athletic's 7-1 demolition of Stenhousemuir.

As Cup ties go, it was a pretty comprehensive result.

Unfortunately for Dunfermline though, the win looks like it will count for nothing and it will be Stenhousemuir who will advance into the Fifth Round and a possible money spinning tie at home to Celtic.

The SFA today kicked the Pars out of this season's competition for fielding an ineligible player in substitute Calum Woods, whose ban from the competition had carried over from last season.

At first glance the expulsion seems a bit harsh and over the top. Woods after all only came on when the scoreline was already 4-0 and the outcome of the match looked to have already been settled (fans of Mali and Peterborough may disagree that this would have been the case!). Past breaches of this rule has led to fines and replayed matches.

Further examination of the case though reveals a number of offences on the day in question and the SFA were left with no alternative we feel but to kick Dunfermline out of the competition.

Apart from playing Woods, there were three other offences. The players ages were not listed on the teamsheet and a rule of the competition is that each club must have two under 21 players on the bench. When this was pointed out to the Pars they changed their team and teamsheet (two seperate offences) but as this was less than an hour before kick off, they should have forfeited one of their subs and only listed four and not five.

A complete administrative shambles and whatever way you look at it, a catalogue of punishable errors.

As for who is to blame, most of the blame has to fall on the Club. Each Scottish Club gets sent a list of suspended players each week of the season. Woods was on all 26 of those issued this season! Surely the player must have known he was banned and could have said something. Is the onus on both the Club and the player to know what's going on? I would say so.

Either way, an appeal is pending but I don't feel that Dunfermline have a leg to stand on and they will be left rueing the fact that the cash strapped Club have missed out on a capacity crowd and lucrative TV money from a match against Celtic.

I would guess the team sheets will be getting checked a bit more thoroughly at East End Park from now on.

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