Arniston Rangers could be crowned East of Scotland Cup winners on Saturday without kicking a ball.
The Gorebridge side are due to face Sauchie in the final at Prestonfield but their opponents will be unable to fulfil the fixture with ten players attending a stag do this weekend, leaving the Clackmannanshire side with just five players.
The match is set to be forfeited before kick-off, unless the East Region Scottish Junior Football Association reverse a decision not to reschedule. That is unlikely, however, after they rejected Sauchie’s request.
Sauchie insist they informed the ERSJFA that there would be an issue with this Saturday’s date almost three weeks ago after they won their quarter-final against Hill of Beath. However, the association have rejected those claims saying there has been no correspondence outlining a problem with Saturday’s date.
John Reilly, ERSJFA fixtures secretary is adamant the game will go ahead, saying: “Sauchie have been told the game is going ahead.
“They had tried to get the semi-final changed because they were struggling for a team but there was no mention of June 14 being a problem.”
Sauchie, meanwhile, who secured their cup final spot with a 1-0 win over Camelon last Saturday, believe the cup final should have been played last weekend with the semi-final taking place a week before – when Sauchie had a free week.
Manager Fraser Duncan expressed his dismay at the decision to go ahead with the fixture, explaining the association were told of a potential problem arising weeks ago.
“We told them after we beat Hill of Beath in the quarter-final that there would be a problem,” said Duncan.
“The stag do has been booked for around seven or eight months now. We were told back at the start of the season that the season would never run this long. I just think that for us to be waiting around for a fixture to come around at this time of year is just ridiculous.”
And Duncan, who insists the club have offered up to seven alternative dates for the fixture to take place, admits the situation is unfair on opponents Arniston who have earned their right to be in the final.
He said: “For us to cancel the stag do we would lose thousands of pounds. We agreed at the start of the season that we’d leave it this late so it wouldn’t be missed.
“The league have suggested we play our under-21s team on Saturday – so they want us to put an under-21s team to play Arniston on Saturday, which I don’t think is acceptable.
“That won’t happen though because the under-21s are away for a weekend in Newcastle. Their season finished up three weeks ago.
“The five guys who are available are sticking by the team and don’t think it is fair on the guy whose stag do it is. Those five players have told me they aren’t playing either, so I have zero players to go into Saturday’s game.
“I feel for Arniston because the cup run that they’ve had and the teams they have put out has been outstanding. They’ve been magnificent and truly deserve a crack at the cup final. We’ve told them we’ve done everything we could.”
Arniston were unavailable for comment.