Spartans ace left ‘gutted’ by expulsion

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Spartans striker Keith McLeod revealed his disappointment today after his team were expelled from this season’s William Hill Scottish Cup and denied a lucrative third-round tie against Partick Thistle.

The Edinburgh club were given the news they were dreading yesterday as a Disciplinary Tribunal of the Scottish Football Association met at Hampden Park and ruled that Spartans had fielded an ineligible player in their 2-0 defeat of SJFA North Superleague champions Culter in the previous round last month.

Culter will now host Partick in the third round next Saturday.

Long-serving striker McLeod, the player whose registration forms had not been completed correctly by Spartans, today said: “I am totally gutted for myself and all of my team-mates, some of whom have never had the opportunity to play in such a big Scottish Cup tie as this one against Partick Thistle would undoubtedly have been. The whole episode of this clerical error regarding my registration forms was nothing to do with me although I still feel very bad about it.

“I’ve been with Spartans for ten seasons so it’s not as if we were trying to pull the wool over anybody’s eyes. I will be 34 next summer and Scottish Cup ties like this one against Partick Thistle would have been well up there with our previous games against St Mirren and Livingston.”

Spartans’ expulsion has denied them a possible £20,000 pay day from the Thistle tie through ticket sales and a third-round bonus payment (£6000), while the club have received a fine to the value of their second-round bonus payment (£4000), which has been suspended for 12 months. Craig Graham, the Spartans chairman who attended the tribunal, said: “After a very fair hearing we have been expelled from the Scottish Cup for the failure to register Keith McLeod. We submitted Keith’s forms back in July. They were returned by the SFA because we had omitted the commencement date from one of the forms. We didn’t receive the return letter so we assumed that all was in order. Unfortunately, we failed to check with the SFA that the form had been registered correctly. I apologise to our players, coaching staff and supporters for what has happened.”

McLeod also played in Spartans’ 4-3 win over Lothian Thistle in the SFA South Region Challenge Cup and they were scheduled to play the next round against Eyemouth United tomorrow. This game has been postponed until the East of Scotland FA meets to discuss that particular situation.