Shinty’s governing body has told premiership champions Kingussie they will be deducted two points following the postponement of the club’s scheduled home league match against Skye Camanachd last Saturday.
The game was called off because referee Graham Cameron said he had not been notified of match arrangements by the host club.
While fixtures and referee allocations are routinely published by the Camanachd Association seven days before match day, the sport’s protocols also require clubs to issue a confirmation courtesy call to the referee by the Wednesday evening before a Saturday game.
Although aware of which game he was scheduled to officiate at, when referee Cameron had not heard from Kingussie by last Saturday morning he opted to make himself unavailable for the match.
With no grade one official in place, the fixture was postponed and will now be rescheduled for later in the season.
The association say the standard sanction for senior teams failing to fulfil a fixture – for reasons other than the weather or a club bereavement – is a two-point deduction.
Speaking to the Free Press, a club source from Kingussie accepted their mistake, but added that he hoped the club would not be made an example of.
In a statement issued on Monday, Kingussie said: “The Kingussie Camanachd Club would like to apologise for the administration error that led to the postponement of our Mowi Premiership match versus Skye Camanachd at the Dell on Saturday 15th July.
“The guidelines sent out to clubs by the Camanachd Association at the start of every season are very clear and the home team should contact the referee and opposition by the Wednesday before each match.
“Due to an oversight this did not happen before the Skye match and the referee Graham Cameron informed us he would not attend, meaning the match could not take place.
“We apologise to all concerned and have taken steps to ensure this does not occur again.”
The Camanachd Association’s operations manager Astie Cameron told the Free Press on Tuesday that the rules were ‘tried and tested’.
He said referee Cameron ‘was within his rights’ not to go to the match, but that no decision had yet been taken on a potential punishment for Kingussie.
However, today (Wednesday 19th July) Kingussie were informed that they would indeed be deducted two points, with the association citing byelaw 3.5.1 of the rule book which states:
“Failure to play a scheduled League fixture, other than by reason of postponement due to pitch conditions as provided for in Byelaw 3.2.2, in the Premiership, National Division, North Area Division 1 and South Area Division 1, shall result in a penalty of two points being deducted from the offending team’s league points total.”
The Badenoch side quickly responded with a further statement which said they would appeal the decision.
Directing their points to the Camanachd Association they wrote: “We did not fail to fulfil this fixture, we wanted to play. Skye wanted to play.
“The only reason the game did not take place was because the referee was not prepared to come.
“You say in your letter that you didn’t have a spare referee to send to our match at the last minute – clearly this is you accepting that if a ref was available the game would have taken place.”
The Skye team were on the minibus ready to depart Portree on Saturday morning when they received news of the postponement
Manager Kenny Macleod said: “It was very frustrating. Kingussie got in touch and were very apologetic about it all, and they held their hands up.
“Between the two clubs there’s about 60 people who have committed themselves to get this game on, and their Saturday was wasted.
“We have players who swapped work shifts to be able to play. It looks like the referee has made a stand to teach Kingussie a lesson – but I think the issue could have been resolved without having to call the game off.
“Issues like this just seem to drive more of a wedge between players and officials.”
In a further twist to the tale it later emerged that the referee at the centre of the controversy had stepped in at short notice to officiate the Lochaber v Inveraray national division one match, because a road closure had prevented the scheduled whistler from attending.
Kingussie are currently second in shinty’s Mowi premiership, two points behind leaders Newtonmore but with four games in hand.