Punishments, Crime, Justice and then the SFA…

Date: 1st October 2021

OK I am biased.

I can not but help being outraged and upset at the latest punishments being handed out by the SFA but last time I had a go at them about this, I believe it was in defence of Kilmarnock FC.

And if you enter a competition, tick the box saying I have read the terms and conditions and you have not read them, then the fault if you fall foul of them is your own.

I get that.

But the ineligibility of players playing for various competitions is not universally agreed. In short, the rules appear to be different dependant upon which competition you are in. Lower league clubs with loan players can end up in a tangle over whether the player who is a Colt player from the Premiership B team is playing for them this week in the cup, can’t play for them in the other cup because their parent clubs says no or they have carte blanche to play for whoever they pay wages to in the vital fixture which could net some serious cash for their club.

And Lower League clubs tend to be run by people inadequately paid or in voluntary positions.

Then there is the, “you are not allowed to play for more than so many clubs in a season” rule. What’s that about?

I shall tell you, what I think.

Not for the first time, clubs who fall foul of the rules, and who bleat about them publicly, are mercilessly silent on change. They tend to shout out loud as my hometown club, Ayr United did when they got chucked out the cup against Rangers Colts because they fielded two ineligible players. It was an administrative breach – an “inadvertent error”. The cost? Out the cup. Rangers B get a 3-0 win and into the next round. Already flying high in the Lowland League, the Colt side look to be getting an opportunity to show their progress in the SPFL Trust Trophy where they could face teams the league below their first team.

It’s a great reward for winning the war of paperwork.

Both ineligible players entered the field of play for a short period of time and for that the punishment is the same as if they had been on from the start, scored all the goals in the game and taken their top off to celebrate whilst running into the crowds and causing a dangerous surge is slightly difficult to comprehend .

Is there a more serious breach of the rules where they get fined, docked points in their league and made to sit on the naughty step?

But in fairness to the SFA, these are rules endorsed by Ayr United.

Each year there shall be a mechanism available to all clubs to change rules. Usually, it is called the Annual General Meeting. There you can table amendments to things and try to gain support from your fellow members and force the hand of the administrators to play fair.

When did that last happen?

When was the last time that somebody made a proposal, and it ended in change?

Maybe they voted, changed their mind because the vote never got through and then decided that the status quo was just as good as the change they thought they supported… but didn’t.

And so, if Ayr are serious, they should lead the charge.

They should support the five clubs making the case for a review and actually having that review – welcomed by the SPFL – but seeking to widen and extend it to cover the daftness of the rules. The reality is that in a world where people are increasingly questioning their leisure time, looking for something to fill the opportunities that COVID has brought to our attention – fitba needs better press to encourage people with more opportunities to enjoy life safely and not be stuck back in the house.

If any leisure activity needs to explain rules based on administrative procedures, they are at a disadvantage. Nobody is going to sit listening for long enough to hear the reasons and turn up the following week.

It is just daft and as Ayr said in their statement,

“Whilst the breach was in error, it was believed to be in spirit of the competition to give young players a chance. Ayr United accept the determination and will not appeal, even though it was believed that the punishment overwhelmed the crime.”

What would be criminal is after winning something we lose those people attracted to watching our game because they fail to see the point…


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