Fort William manager Kris Anderson feels his side have been the subject of a ‘witch-hunt’ after receiving a nine-point deduction.
The Claggan Park side, who sit bottom of the Highland League table without a point from their opening five games, were handed the penalty after fielding an ineligible player on three occasions.
Aiden Taylor, who has joined Fort on loan from Keith, played in three matches before the move was registered with the Scottish FA on August 15.
A Highland League statement released yesterday confirmed the matter was considered by the league management committee decided on Thursday “that Fort William FC be fined a total of £150 and deducted nine points with immediate effect.”
Fort, who considered dropping down to the amateur ranks at the end of last season, have conceded 48 goals and scored only twice in their opening five league matches.
Fort manager Anderson was frustrated he was not able to inform his players about the penalty.
He said: “I am quite annoyed that my players, myself and my coaching staff got to hear of this on social media this morning and that was extremely disappointing for all of us.
“Other circumstances involved in the situation were completely outwith our control and, at the moment, I honestly feel that everything and everybody is against us. It really does feel like a bit of a witch-hunt.
“This has certainly taken the edge of what was going to be an interesting home match against Formartine United this weekend.
“We’ve been trying to get the players to remain positive but this nine-point deduction is a real kick in the teeth to us all.”
A statement from Fort William said: “Obviously we were saddened to hear of this decision, a loss of nine points will make this season’s rebuild all the harder. We would like to thank the fans of Fort William and others in the Highland League for their on-going patience and support.”
The Highland League rules, including subsection 8.9 on the registration of players, was amended last year when Buckie Thistle were accused of listing an ineligible player, midfielder Callum Murray, as a substitute in a goal-less draw at Formartine United the day after the youngster had been recalled from a loan spell at Deveronvale.
The league’s management decided no action was necessary on that occasion, allowing Buckie to claim the title with a 9-0 win against Strathspey Thistle the following Saturday.
Formartine United manager Paul Lawson may have sympathy for his opponents but said: “We have to go into this game in a professional manner, especially as we are coming off the back of two defeats.
“There may be changes to our line-up as Garry Wood, Jonny Crawford and Gary Fraser are struggling with knocks.”