THE Scottish Cup quarter-final draw descended into near farcical scenes at Hampden last night when it had to be aborted during a live television broadcast.
Scottish FA president Alan McRae, overseeing the draw made by former Celtic star Lubo Moravcik and Brian McColgan of tournament sponsors William Hill, was left stunned when one of the balls containing the club names split open before it was pulled from the pot.
One tie had already been drawn, pitting Dundee United at home to Celtic, with the winners of the Dumbarton-Dundee fifth-round replay pulled out by Moravcik as the home side in the second quarter-final.
But the broken ball which was drawn next forced McRae to call a halt to proceedings and cut short the live broadcast on Sky Sports News.
After a delay of around ten minutes when the balls were checked and repaired, the draw was re-started. Under competition protocol, any interruption to the draw renders it void and requires it is drawn again from the start.
The four ties were successfully compiled second time around with Dundee United this time landing an away fixture against Ross County, while Celtic were drawn at home to Championship outsiders Morton.
The winners of the Hearts-Hibs replay will be at home to cup holders Inverness Caley Thistle, while the remaining quarter-final will pit Rangers or Kilmarnock at home to Dumbarton or Dundee.
McRae offered an apology on air for the embarrassing malfunction which will be most keenly felt by Dundee United chairman Stephen Thompson whose club have missed out on a far more lucrative fixture.
“The first draw is what we actually expected,” said United midfielder Paul Paton who represented the Tannadice outfit at Hampden.
“We’d said earlier today that we’d probably get Celtic but it’s just strange how it’s happened – it’s void now and we look forward to a trip away to Ross County.
“I didn’t feel relief that the draw was void. I think the chairman will be disappointed because it would have been a live TV game and we’d have had a big gate.
“But it’s just one of those things that happen – a freak accident that you just have to laugh off. It’s disappointing that we had a home advantage and now we’re facing a trip away but there’s nothing we can do so there’s no point in moaning about it.”
Celtic striker Leigh Griffiths, also in attendance at Hampden, made no secret of his delight at the consequences of the re-draw.
“I think it’s about the first time in two years we’ve had a home draw in the Scottish Cup,” said Griffiths. “It’s also against lower league opposition, so we’ve got to be happy.”
Scottish football previously suffered a draw mishap in 2007 when the semi-finals of the League Cup, then sponsored by the Scottish Government, were mis-called by the then parliament presiding officer Alex Fergusson. It took almost four hours to rectify the error on that occasion.
Scottish Cup sixth round draw:
Hearts or Hibs v Inverness CT
Celtic v Greenock Morton
Ross County v Dundee United
Rangers or Kilmarnock v Dumbarton or Dundee
Ties to be played on weekend of 5-6 March.