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Fort William relegated from Highland League after not having enough eligible players to take part in play-offs. Banks O'Dee promoted

By Will Clark

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Fort William have been relegated from the Highland League with North Junior champions Banks O'Dee promoted for next season's competition.

Fort William are relegated from the Highland League. Picture: James Mackenzie
Fort William are relegated from the Highland League. Picture: James Mackenzie

The Highland League have confirmed the West Highland club have lost their place in the division automatically.

A statement released last week from the SHFL stated Fort William did not have enough eligible players available to take part in the play-offs, scheduled to take place tomorrow and next weekend.

Competition rules state players are only eligible to play in the play-offs if they were registered before January 31.

The statement said that three of the 12 players who played against Rothes in their final league game on Tuesday, were signed after the date and therefore ineligible to play in the play-offs.

In addition, the first choice goalkeeper had returned to Poland and his replacement was registered on March 31.

The club felt it did not have enough goalkeepers or outfield players for the play-offs and asked for dispensation to the clause to allow the players to play.

However, the statement said the league discovered Fort William had five players registered as goalkeepers to play for the club and therefore dispensation was denied.

Also, there were concerns raised about the condition of Claggan Park to be used in the play-offs, after the pitch was banned from being played on during the regular season due to its condition.

After discussions were held with the SHFL today, Fort William withdrew from the play-offs and were relegated from the Highland League.

Banks O'Dee have been officially promoted to the Highland League and will play next season.

SHFL secretary Rod Houston was saddened this was the outcome of the first team to be relegated from the Highland League.

"It is has been an unfortunate series of events," he said.

"It is also sad that senior football in the west Highlands has gone in this way."

It is thought Fort William will be relegated to the North Caledonian League.

The North Caledonian Football Association says it was waiting for confirmation regarding Fort William's participation and speaking to the club before making any official statement.

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