SPFL probe after ‘wrong penalty shoot-out’ used in Irn-Bru Cup tie

The New Saints (TNS) triumphed on penalties, and will maintain their place in the next round. File picture: Getty Images
The New Saints (TNS) triumphed on penalties, and will maintain their place in the next round. File picture: Getty Images
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The SPFL are to launch an investigation into the penalty shoot-out at the end of the Irn-Bru Cup tie between The New Saints and Livingston - but it will not affect the Welsh side’s progression.

TNS triumphed 6-5 on penalties after a 1-1 draw at their Park Hall Stadium, but Irish referee Robert Harvey used the trial ABBA method in the shoot-out where Livingston went first and then The New Saints took two consecutive penalties before team Livingston’s second attempt and so on.

Livingston boss David Hopkin poses with the Irn-Bru Cup before the clash in Wales. Picture: SNS Group

Livingston boss David Hopkin poses with the Irn-Bru Cup before the clash in Wales. Picture: SNS Group

The traditional method of one team following another should have been used and was in fact used in the tie between Ayr United and Montrose that went to penalties last Tuesday.

The ABBA method, which was first used in youth competitions during the summer, was approved by football’s law-making body, the International Football Association Board, after research showed that the team going second faced a disadvantage.

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The English Football League have adopted its use for their Carabao Cup, Checkatrade Trophy and EFL play-offs this season on a trial basis but it is not in the SPFL rules and was used in error on Sunday.

Both the New Saints and Livingston went along with the ABBA approach until the outcome was decided when Scott Pittman hit the sixteenth kick of the shoot-out over the bar.

A SPFL spokesperson said: “It is not in our rules and we will be looking into how it happened as the rules were issued to everyone involved.

“It looks like there was some confusion between the referee who came from Ireland and his assistants who were from Wales.”

“We do not see it affecting the result of the tie however we need to ensure that it does not happen again.”