Football stand off disrupts matches

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The stand off between Lochs Football Club and match officials in the Lewis and Harris Association shows no sign of easing soon after the Association released a statement confirming officials have made a collective decision not to officiate any Lochs matches involving a specific player.

Lochs’ scheduled league match against Carloway was postponed on Monday while the Eilean an Fhraoich Cup Final – due to be played tomorrow between Lochs and West Side – is also off despite the player in question not even being eligible for Lochs in the Eilean an Fhraoich Cup competition.

The referees’ stance came after a Lochs FC registered player was involved in an incident with a local referee, in which the referee was assaulted and hospitalised, in an altercation which was not on the football pitch, but during a night out.

The player in question was arrested and the incident has been dealt with by police and at Stornoway Sheriff Court with the player accepting a £500 fine for the incident.

The issue is now no longer a police matter but the league’s referees have so far stood by their collective decision not to officiate any Lochs matches involving the player.

In a statement this week the Lewis and Harris Football Association explained their stance.

They wrote: “The Lewis and Harris Football Association received a written account of the incident from the referee in question and the matter was discussed at the Association meeting on Tuesday, 17 July 2018.

“On the basis of information received from the SAFA, the Chair informed the meeting that the matter would be dealt with by the National Disciplinary Committee of the SAFA, and not by the local Association.

“Furthermore, the player could not be suspended pending an investigation.

“The referees’ representative subsequently informed the Chair of the Association that the referees, individually, made a decision not to referee any Lochs FC fixtures which involve the player in question.

The advice from the Scottish Football Association was that they could not make that decision collectively, but that they could not, as individuals, be forced to referee any fixture.

The referees have advised the LHFA of their position on the matter as follows: “To clarify, each individual referee is currently unavailable for Lochs FC games until the matter is resolved.”

The Association also quote Lochs FC as deciding not to take any action themselves against the player, as they believe the incident was ‘not football related but personal’, and has now been dealt with by Police Scotland.

Lochs Football Club held an emergency meeting on Tuesday (July 24th) to reassess the situation regarding their player and voted against any further action.

They also asked for a meeting between the L&HFA Executive, the Lochs FC Executive and, if possible, a referees’ representative, as early as convenient for all parties.

The purpose of this meeting from Lochs FC’s perspective is to seek clarification about several issues relating to the case.

The Association contacted the referees’ representative and the referees’ decision was not to attend such a meeting until they hear what the SAFA decide at the meeting tonight (Thursday, 26 July).

At Thursday’s meeting, the case will be heard by the SAFA’s Executive & Finance Committee to make the following decision(s):

a) Is this case to be heard by the SAFA; and

b) If it is, a decision as to which SAFA sub-committee would deal with the matter.

It would appear that the SAFA’s National Disciplinary Committee only deal with “on the field offences” so it will not be hearing this case.