Fans react to Hearts' fine and point deduction over ineligible player

Hearts fans have had their say after the club was hit with a fine and points deduction after fielding an ineligible player in their Betfred Cup group match against Cove Rangers.

An SPFL panel docked two points, and handed the Tynecastle side a £10,000 fine - of which £8,000 is suspended until the end of the 2019/20 season - for playing Andy Irving in the match at the Balmoral Stadium.

The teenager had not been properly registered by Hearts, rendering him ineligible to feature in the competition. The Jambos punishment sees their five-point tally from two matches reduced to three, meaning Craig Levein’s side can still reach the tournament’s knockout phase with two games remaining.

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Andrew Irving, inset, was brought on as a substitute during the tie at Balmoral Park. Pictures: SNS Group

Supporters have been reacting to the punishment on the Evening News’ social media pages.

Derek Wilson wrote: “Talk about throwing money away” while Gaynor Bain added: “Could have been worse.”

Andrew Pennycook posted: “As much as it’s far from ideal, at least we are still in with a slim chance and just need boys to step up! If this isn’t a kick up the backside then nothing will be!”

Willie Stewart asked: “Will the fans that travelled to Cove get their money back?”

Stephen Anthony Jones added: “Seems fair. Hearts should get their act together and this would be avoidable.”

Donald Maccuish wrote: “The whole team is ineligible to play after watching that pathetic display on Saturday [against Raith Rovers].”

Ian McKernan predicted: “we’re not going to progress for the second year running! Long season ahead!”

Darren Priestley said: “Strange one that but I’ll take it” while Shaz Shafiq branded the oversight a “schoolboy errror”.

Roger Hannah posted: “I was expecting to have the game forfeited, giving the points to Cove. Not as bad as expected, but we need to win the next two comfortably.”

James Leslie recalled a similar event with Cove themselves, adding: “Cove done the same thing two years ago in the same competition, they lost 4-0 and still got fined £2,000 so the comparison between club size seems fair and also the 2-point deduction gives us the chance to get 9 points and hopefully skelp the next two teams and all is forgotten about!”

On the Evening News website, Stuart Douglas asked: “Is the SPFL giving us back the point the ref took off us at Raith?”

Ron Delnevo was in a confident mood, writing: “Good decision for Hearts. Two wins and we qualify. That will do nicely! Hearts were two up when they brought the player on. If he had stayed on the bench, a fine would have been enough.”

On Twitter, events from the second group match against Raith Rovers dominated proceedings. Graeme Duthie wanted to know: “Does the ref on Saturday get sanctioned for chalking off a perfectly good goal?”

Willie Laidlaw joked: “Obviously they took into account the fact that we should have had 3 points against Raith and only got 2 so rather than deducting 3 points they only took off 2 to make up the difference!”

Last word to Kris Jackson, who may have had his tongue firmly in his cheek when he wrote: “Another 10-0 win over Cowdenbeath wouldn’t go amiss then!”