SFA defends decision to move EK-Celtic tie to Hamilton

East Kilbride celebrate their Scottish Cup fourth round win which set up a tie against Celtic. Picture: Rob Casey/SNS
East Kilbride celebrate their Scottish Cup fourth round win which set up a tie against Celtic. Picture: Rob Casey/SNS
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The SFA has defended its decision to move East Kilbride’s Scottish Cup tie against Celtic to New Douglas Park.

The Lowland League side wrote to the governing body to seek clarification over the decision to play the match at Hamilton’s ground, which was announced after East Kilbride defeated Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale on Wednesday night.

EK wanted to host the tie at their own 600-capacity K-Park ground but this was ruled out by the police.

The SFA said it followed its own competition rules when reaching its decision.

In a statement released on Friday, the association said: “The decision regarding the choice of venue was taken in accordance with the terms of Scottish Cup Competition Rule 13 ‘Grounds for Ties’ on the basis that the Scottish FA had been advised by Police Scotland that this tie could not proceed at K-Park Training Academy on the grounds of spectator safety and security – a view shared by the Association’s administration.

“This matter was discussed at a meeting at K-Park on 14 January, attended by the East Kilbride Chairman, Mark Horner.

“Related to that meeting, the club was requested to submit venue selection proposals in the event of a home tie against Celtic FC by Monday, 18 January. During a subsequent telephone call, this deadline was moved back to Tuesday 19 January – at the request of the club – to allow further time for the consideration of/discussion with potential venues.

“On Tuesday, 19 January, the Scottish FA Board of Directors was provided with a paper putting forward the venue preferences of East Kilbride FC:

“1. K-Park, East Kilbride; 2. Hampden Park; 3. Celtic Park; 4. Broadwood / Excelsior Stadium / Firhill; 5. New Douglas Park.

“On Wednesday 20 January, on the basis of Rule 13, the decision of the Scottish FA Board was communicated to the club by e-mail and confirmed as remaining under embargo until the conclusion of Wednesday evening’s tie against Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale.”

Speaking to STV earlier this week EK chairman Horner said: “We have written to the Scottish FA asking them to clarify how they made the decision to host our cup tie against Celtic at NDP.

“We just want to know how the decision was reached.

“The club do not even know how much it would cost to host the game at NDP. We wrote to Hamilton [when options were being considered] but they never came back to us.”

Section 13 of the Scottish Cup competition rules states:

“Notwithstanding anything which is contained in Rule 11 if a club notifies the Association that it is unable to play a Cup match at its registered ground as detailed in the Official Return (Rule 6 and the Articles of Association refer) for whatever reason and the Board is satisfied of the validity of such reason, the match shall be played at the nearest registered ground of at least equivalent capacity which in the opinion of the Board is most suitable for the occasion.

“If a replay should be necessary, it will take place at the ground of its opponents.”