Buckie relief as they are cleared to go for title after substitute challenge

Buckie Thistle bench

Buckie Thistle were last night cleared to play for the Highland League title this weekend after the league management committee ruled that no action be taken against the Jags for listing youngster Callum Murray in last Saturday’s draw at Formartine United.

The delegates at last night’s meeting at Lossiemouth took more than two-and-a-half hours to resolve that no further action be taken against the Jags for listing midfielder Murray among their substitutes.

He did not play. The decision means that a win for Buckie in their final game of the season against Strathspey Thistle at Victoria Park will see them secure their first title since 2010-11.

Brora lead the table on 81 points, with both Buckie and Cove Rangers two points behind with one game each to go.

Cove face Lossiemouth tomorrow but Buckie have a far superior goal difference which means they will be champions if they win.

The crux of the issue at last night’s meeting was that midfielder Murray, who was an unused substitute at North Lodge Park last weekend, had only been recalled by the Jags from his loan at Deveronvale the day before and Highland League rules state that any player who moves club after March 31 is ineligible to play for his new club.

Announcing the committee’s decision, Highland League junior vice-president George Manson, who chaired the meeting, said: “The matter was given thorough consideration, including hearing submissions from Buckie Thistle and Formartine United and it was decided to take no further action. In addition the secretary was instructed to develop reworded drafts towards clarifying the terms of the rule for application in future seasons.”

A stressed but mightily relieved Buckie Thistle president Garry Farquhar said: “All I want to say is that we are satisfied with the outcome and we think it has been a good result for the Highland League. There are three teams who can win this championship on Saturday but at least we are one of them. The positive thing to come out of this is the ruling needs to be clarified.”