Kingussie have made the shock decision to surrender hosting this year’s Tulloch Homes Camanachd Cup Final.
The Premiership champions, who were looking forward to the game’s Blue Riband event being held at The Dell for the first time in 22 years, have informed the Camanachd Association they are now unable to do so as scheduled on September 18.
This leaves the association in urgent discussions over a replacement venue, with Inverness a possibility.
Kingussie were due to stage the Camanachd Cup Final last year, but the Covid-19 pandemic forced its postponement to this year.
The club had put in a phenomenal volume of work, including arranging a post-match Final Fling music event starring Peat and Diesel, Manran and Keir Gibson.
However, the significant financial exposure due to the risk of having to call off this concert at a later stage has been a key factor in forcing Kingussie’s hand.
The club had originally made extensive arrangements for a local festival weekend around the Camanachd Cup Final, with stalls all the way to the ground. They had been keen to showcase the Badenoch area and create a visitor attraction around the match.
Team manager John Gibson said: “It’s a great pity, as everyone had been looking forward to it so much, but circumstances have led to the club’s decision.
“By deferring staging it at The Dell until 2022, it should ensure we could have the Final Fling and the associated festival.”
The club committee is understood to have been increasingly concerned at crowd restrictions – with the Scottish Cup final at Hampden, for instance, being played without spectators – and the lack of a firm guarantee there would be no social distancing on the big day.
Kingussie felt it was better to withdraw now, rather than wait and see, which risked a situation where a late withdrawal could mean no Camanachd final this year.
Only last month, contractors had completed an extension of the car park at The Dell, with the final in mind.
Association directors are understood to be sympathetic to Kingussie’s plight, but are now trying to line up an alternative venue. The first round of this season’s Tulloch Homes Camanachd Cup begins on June 26.