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Sport / Forfeiting points due to isolation a ‘very hard rule to have’, football president says

THE PRESIDENT of the Shetland Football Association has explained why Whalsay and Delting were forfeited points earlier this week when they could not field teams due to their squad being told to isolate.

It meant that Celtic were given a 3-0 victory over Whalsay on Monday night, while Spurs were given the same scoreline against Delting despite a ball not being kicked.

It meant that Whalsay technically lost their unbeaten record in the league.

It led to some calls on social media for the matches to be rescheduled instead, but Shetland Football Association president Iain Smith said a busy schedule – and issues with having enough referees – has effectively put paid to that idea.

The rule for forfeiting points in the event of being unable to field a team due to Covid related reasons was made back in March.

The Whalsay team was told to isolate recently following Covid cases connected to the isle, while Delting were ordered by NHS Shetland to do the same because of a match they had played together shortly before.

Smith said he was keen to apply the rule from the day after the matches, but that got outvoted when clubs took part in a Zoom meeting.

He described it as a “very hard rule to have”.

“We were likely put in this place with the fact that we went for a full season,” Smith said.

“I would have rather gone for a watered down season – just the league, not worry about any cup, and then if possible, they could have fit in a cup at the end of the season.”

When asked about reports that Whalsay offered to field a team, Smith said the decision to stick to the rule was made in a meeting with all clubs in attendance prior to the game.

He added that to go into a full season, while also being a month late and with the Covid situation, felt like “skating on very, very thin ice.”

The issue around referees was proving a problem, with four set to go on holiday in July, for instance.

Smith also noted there appeared to be an increasing number of injuries among Shetland’s teams due to a tighter schedule of matches and training.

The local season resumed in mid-May, and among the changes was works league teams joining the reserves competition.