There is one further point arising from the game which I know has been raised elsewhere, but, as yet, I have not seen a convincing explanation, apart from the agreement of the SPL, SFA and SFL to “facilitate” Rangers FC’s entry to the Third Division. Maybe someone can enlighten me?
“Receipt of a Scottish Football Association membership, albeit temporary because of continuing negotiations over conditions of entry, had gone to the wire on Friday.
It meant that their first signings – former Hearts midfielder Ian Black and returning forward Little – had to be listed as trialists, while manager Ally McCoist could only muster enough personnel to fill four of the five substitutes places.”
Rangers official website reported the same game and included the following:-
“Rangers took the lead inside four minutes when they cut through the middle of the Brechin defence and Andy Little swept a left foot shot into the net.
Little, who agreed a new contract at the end of the week, had to play as a trialist as his registration won’t be completed until next Friday.”
Therefore at least Mr Little, but possibly Mr Black as well, played for Rangers FC as “trialists” in the first round Ramsdens Cup match.
Rule 8 states:-
“Players taking part in the Competition must be registered in terms of Scottish Football League Rules as appropriate.”
Rules 8.2 and 8.3 state:-
8.2 It shall be the responsibility of each Club participating in the Competition to ensure that its players are eligible to play in any Challenge Cup match. If a player participates in a Challenge Cup match, such player being ineligible to play in the Cup match as a result of his suspension by The Scottish Football Association or for any other reason, the Club for which the player participates in the Challenge Cup match shall be liable to such penalty as the Board may decide.
8.3 Any Club infringing this Rule may be disqualified from the Competition and the tie awarded to its opponent.
That seems quite clear. To play in the Ramsdens Cup, a player must be registered under SFL Rules. Indeed the word “trialists” does not appear in the rules for the Challenge Cup.
Maybe though there is a way in which trialists can be “registered”?
Rule 115 deals with “REGISTRATION AND TRANSFERS – BONA FIDE PLAYERS”
A bona fide player (amateur or professional) of a club is one who has signed the necessary Registration Documents (any signature to be witnessed by one person) and has been registered and approved by the League before playing.
115.1 It shall be the responsibility of each member club playing in any match under the auspices of the League to ensure that its players are eligible to play in any such match.
Therefore, to be “registered” requires a player to have signed Registration documents and have been registered and approved by the league before playing.
Rule 122 deals with “PLAYING OF PLAYERS WITHOUT REGISTRATION”:-
No more than two Trialists from any grade of football may be allowed to play, or be listed as a substitute for any club in any Championship match up to and including 31st March in any season.
122.1 Each Trialist may be allowed to play in, or be listed as a substitute for, a maximum of three games for any one club, provided he is otherwise eligible to do so. Clubs playing a player in these circumstances must indicate the fact by adding the words “not registered” after such player’s name and address, place and date of birth, previous club, and the country in which he last played, in the list of players in their Report of Result of the game.
122.2 Trialists, in accordance with the terms of this Rule and Rule 123 (Transfer/Temporary Transfer of Registration During Currency of Contract), may not play or be listed as a substitute in any Championship match after 31st March in any season except with the prior consent of the Board.
My reading of that Rule is that a Trialist can only play in a Championship Match, and not a Challenge Cup match. In addition, Rule 122.1 makes it clear that a trialist is NOT REGISTERED.
Now it is possible that, as part of the process of “facilitating” the entry of Rangers FC into SFL3, the SFL Board agreed to permit the playing of trialists in circumstances where they would not otherwise have been eligible.
Rule 2 of the Challenge Cup Rules states:-
The Board shall have full power to conduct and control the Competition and amend the Competition Rules as appropriate.
It does not seem fair to Brechin if the Rangers FC could play players who otherwise would have been ineligible, especially as Mr Little scored after only four minutes.
I am sure there must be an explanation for Rangers FC being allowed to play two ineligible players, but I cannot see it in the rules anywhere.
Can anyone help?
Asked perplexedly by Paul McConville