The Parkhead club stated they were unable to field a side for the cup tie on the 30th September, following a number of long term injuries and four of their cup squad being part of the Under-17 Scotland side away on international duty that weekend also.
With TEN players unavailable – four through international commitments and six through long term injuries – Celtic only had ten players available for the game and asked Scottish Women’s Football to postpone the match.
A statement from Celtic read: “We were unable to field a team due to four Scottish international call-ups and significant injuries to six other players, thus leaving us with only 10 available players. We made it clear throughout that we were not asking for a change of date because of injured players.
“Clearly, given the circumstances, with only 10 players available, we asked Scottish Women’s Football (SWF) to re-schedule the match and awaited a response from the SWF for more than a week.
“They initially informed us that they were willing to re-schedule the match, but they then told the club that it was not possible following an appeal by Glasgow City.
“We are extremely concerned with the handling of this matter and we are very disappointed that common sense did not prevail.”
SWFA rules state that clubs must submit a list of 17 players for the competition, despite reports in one media outlet stating that the request was declined, Scottish Women’s Football did indeed initially postpone the game before the SWPL reigning champions Glasgow City lodged an appeal over the decision.
Glasgow City were subsequently awarded the tie and progressed into the next round, where the league champions will face Hibernian in the last four of the Scottish Cup tonight.
When contacted by Scotzine, Scottish Women’s Football stated: “Celtic couldn’t field a team for the quarter-finals – simple as that!”
While City’s spokesperson and general manager Laura Montgomery, stated that they were ‘only interested in concentrating on their semi final clash tonight with Hibernian and have no comment to make on the matter‘.
Glasgow City last weekend secured their sixth successive SWPL title following their 8-1 victory over Hibernian Ladies, coupled with their earlier League Cup victory, City are now on the hunt for a domestic treble this season following their elimination from the UEFA Women’s Champions League to Fortuna Hjorring of Denmark.
But Scotzine have came into information, that not all is as straightforward as it seems or as we are led to believe.
According to our source, Celtic allegedly sent a list of players that were available and unavailable. They did indeed state that they had ten fit players to take to the field against City, while six were deemed injured and four others were called up to the Under-17 Scotland side. But, Celtic also stated that three players were unavailable due to injury and retirement.
Celtic had listed defender Michelle Barr as retired, Lisa Henry as injured as well as Lauren McMillan on the list sent into the governing body. However our source has disputed the Parkhead side’s claims in regards to these three players, stating: ‘Henry and Barr were not available to play, not because of injuries or retirement, but because of internal clashes with the Celtic management staff and that the Celtic management team were messing the players about and refusing to play them’.
Information we have received has Lauren MacMillan – a long term casualty – had in fact played in a reserve game between Glasgow City and Celtic lasting the full 90 minutes. According to one Celtic player, who contacted me later after this article went live, MacMillan was out injured for the cup game due to concussion picked up during Celtic’s game against Spartans on the 23rd September. However, Celtic had issued a notice to postpone the game on the 19th and included MacMillan on the injury list.
Just a week after the quarter final tie was to take place, Lauren McMillan actually played in the 2-0 league defeat for Celtic against City at Petershill.
Both Henry and Barr were available to play in the Glasgow City tie, despite claims of them being injured and retired respectively.
With those three players available, Celtic would then have had 13 players available – more than enough to fulfill their Scottish Cup tie, but our source stated that the reason they were trying to postpone the game was because they were ‘fearful of being on the wrong end of a double figure score’.
Celtic had initially requested the game postponed on the 19th September, 12 days before the quarter final tie took place. Three days later on the 21st September, the SWF board according to our source ‘made their decision and stated the match would go ahead as planned’.
But just three days before the match was to take place and the day after Glasgow City had been beaten 2-1 at Petershill Park in their UEFA Champions League game against Fortuna Hjorring, all parties were informed that the match was postponed after the SWF board had changed their mind after Celtic had asked them to reconsider their decision on the 26th September.
City lodged their appeal subsequently after they were not reportedly privy to said Celtic appeal. According to our source: ‘City pointed out that over the course of previous seasons other teams have claimed to be unable to field a team and the SWF awarded the tie to the opposing team. In all, it was setting a dangerous precedent for the governing body’.
Our source also stated that such a decision would have hit City ‘financially’ including pitch costs and the printing of match day programmes. The league leaders would have had their own problems in terms of player availability also, if another date was re-arranged and a facility not being able to be sourced in time, due to lost revenue.
After City reportedly lodged their appeal to the SWF decision, the governing body did another u-turn and overturned their decision to postpone the tie and instead award it to Glasgow City and expel Celtic from the competition.
Our source added that the SWF board said: ‘that the reversed decision[to postpone tie]was made hastily, and through a series of phone calls and emails which did not allow for a full picture and discussion to be had to come to such a decision, within days of the tie being played’.
The SWF board directors called for a meeting, which was set to be scheduled for Friday 28th September at 5.30pm for all parties to have their say and to find the best course of action to take, with ‘the SWF board wanting to keep the integrity of the competition as well as its public face at heart intact’.
Our source declared that ‘Celtic refused to attend the meeting’, and thereafter the SWF organised a conference call to discuss the matter. The conclusion was that despite ‘a desire to see the fixture played, without an opportunity to try and reconcile the parts, the original decision should stand and both clubs were informed’ therefore Celtic were kicked out of the competition.
For Under-19 and Senior football call-ups, games can be re-scheduled but because the rules state that ‘there is no provision in the rules for a tie to be postponed for players on international duty with the youth squads’ then the four Celtic players away on international duty for Scotland from Celtic cannot constitute the game being called off.
In fact of the four players away on international duty, one was goalkeeper Chloe Logan who would not have been playing in the game at all, given that Gemma Fay is a stalwart in goals for Celtic and for such an important clash would not have been dropped to the bench. Therefore only three players were then deemed ineligible due to international commitments – all three under the age of 15.
The SWF deemed that ‘injuries cannot and have never been a factor in similar decisions and therefore should be discounted’ with our source claiming that Celtic were using every tactic in their arsenal to postpone the tie, not because of the Under-17 clash but because of their injury list.
It is another in a long line of historical off the field clashes between the two sides, according to our source.
This was the second match in a row against Glasgow City that Celtic had tried to delay. They had allegedly requested the previous League match to be postponed also, with no explanation given. Despite this call for a postponement, Celtic had a full bench to choose from. In addition, Hibernian and Forfar also had players in the same Under-17 squad, yet they fulfilled their quarter final ties and never requested their games postponed.
Earlier this season, Celtic changed the venue of a league clash between the two sides 24 hours before the game was due to take place and moved it to Barrowfield. When City turned up for the clash, despite every other area of the training ground working City’s changing room was bathed in darkness and were advised that they could always get changed over at Celtic Park or in the canteen.
In the same game, Celtic also enforced a ticket stub issue on City and their players, giving them 24 tickets to get onto the pitch – not to get into Barrowfield, as they were already in the ground, but actually onto the pitch. A moment of bureaucracy our source states that was used to try and unsettle the City staff and players – as the visitors had more than 24 players and staff. While also adding that this was the first and only time since then that Celtic have pulled that ‘stunt’.
Celtic’s assistant manager Peter Caulfield, used to manage Glasgow City but left the club under a cloud, when City’s management wanted to promote Caulfield to the club’s board and install then assistant manager Eddie Wolecki Black as his replacement – a decision which Caulfield took umbrage with and resigned.