The club has chosen not to make a public comment before now regarding the situation surrounding our withdrawal from the playoff games due to the fact that discussions were ongoing with the Highland League Management Committee and the SFA, however after talks broke down at a meeting of the LMC with Directors of Fort William FC on Thursday evening we would like to make a number of things clear.
Firstly, as many people are aware, Fort William’s pitch at Claggan Park was deemed unplayable by an unqualified person (contrary to LMC rules) at the beginning of the 2021-22 season. The decision was made by the LMC to make Fort William play their games away from home.
Substantial work was completed and the pitch was deemed fit to play games in September by a registered SFA referee, however the LMC decided to uphold their decision to make Fort William play away from home. This was not based on the quality of the park, but on their belief and assumptions about other factors relating to the club.
In the week leading up to the playoff games the club contacted the LMC with requests regarding player dispensations due to our desire to fulfill the fixtures and our understanding of the Highland League rules regarding goalkeepers. Up until 3.30pm on the day before the game, the LMC were unaware of their own rule regarding keepers and were wrongly advising the club. We were fully aware of the rules and as such did not want to enter into the fixture and be penalised should their mistake be found out.
We had a squad ready to play, we understood the rules, our paperwork was all in order.
The LMC decided that a pitch inspection was required at Claggan Park the day before the first leg. An unqualified person (contrary to the LMC rules) inspected the pitch and declared the game should be moved. At no point were the club advised to roll and line the park prior to this visit.
Fort William FC have been in talks with the SFA during the past 2 weeks regarding the matters and the issues raised have been escalated.
We hope that a resolution can be found by all parties involved.