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Caley Thistle chief executive Scot Gardiner accepts Challenge Cup final postponement was inevitable

Caley Thistle chief executive Scot Gardiner.
Caley Thistle chief executive Scot Gardiner.

Caley Thistle chief executive Scot Gardiner concedes it was inevitable the 2019-20 Challenge Cup final against Raith Rovers would not be played.

The SPFL announced yesterday the two teams would share the trophy as it was proving impossible to find a date for the game.

The two clubs had initially hoped to play the final in front of supporters, after it was cancelled at the end of last season due to the pandemic.

But with time running out this season and Caley Thistle not prepared to re-jig their pre-season plans to play it in the summer, a call-off became the only option.

Gardiner said: “We were having meetings about every quarter, to discuss when could it be played and our plan was it would get played when we could get fans back.

“That was aimed at a long time ago. It’s a 19-20 tournament and the longer it went on, the more ridiculous it got.

“With this year’s tournament cancelled completely, the options were play it at the beginning of July before the season starts. Then there would be a problem with the venue as it was due to be played in Perth; you’d have a problem as this is when all the pitches get renovated.

“Similarly one or both clubs would be starting their pre-season at least two weeks early to play that game. That has consequences for the rest of the season with fatigue and cutting short the holidays they have, when it’s been extremely strenuous.

“We were not going to start our pre-season training two weeks’ early to play a tournament that was two years’ old. It’s nobody’s fault, it just happened. We were calling it ‘the Covid Cup’ for the last year.

“Then there was the matter of sporting integrity. We would have James Keatings playing against us. I think we would have six players left from the semi-final squad – Raith Rovers would possibly be less.

Caley Thistle chief executive Scot Gardiner (right) with chairman Ross Morrison.
Caley Thistle chief executive Scot Gardiner (right) with chairman Ross Morrison.

“Because they are having a Challenge Cup next year, you couldn’t put it any longer. In hindsight we could have maybe squeezed it in at the start of this season with no fans but both clubs said there was no point in doing it, as the whole point of a cup final day was to have fans there.”

Both clubs will receive winners’ medals from the tournament, with Caley Thistle ensuring all players that were in the match-day squad for the semi-final against Rangers under-20s to get one.

“A lot of them have left us but we’ll get their winners’ medals sent out to them,” added Gardiner. “We’ll give them to the 18 boys who were named that day.”

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