CLUB STATEMENT IN RESPONSE TO REPORT FEATURING COVE RANGERS PUBLISHED BY THE PRESS & JOURNAL
COVE Rangers Football Club would welcome any move to correct the anomalies that exist within the rules governing the SPFL Pyramid Play-offs.
Clubs in League 2 are reported to be upset that Cove were able to sign former Cowdenbeath player Martin 'Jimmy' Scott last Saturday, outside the transfer windows they have to adhere to.
Scott would be eligible to feature in the play-off final against the side finishing bottom of League 2, were Cove to qualify for that this season.
The champions of the Highland League face the champions of the Lowland League, over two legs, for the right to play in the final.
Cove Rangers are not guaranteed to feature in the play-offs, they are currently locked in a close battle with Brora Rangers in the race for the Breedon Highland League title.
But the prospect of Scott maybe featuring in the play-off final is expected to result in clubs from the SPFL's lower tier protesting and demanding changes to the rules for future seasons.
Keith Moorhouse, chairman of Cove Rangers, admitted he would welcome any move that would give all clubs competing in the play-offs "a fair chance of success."
"We fully back the sporting reasons for wanting to see that anomaly corrected," continued Keith.
"We, however, have done nothing wrong.
"We signed Martin Scott within the rules as they exist which, means he would be eligible to feature in the play-offs were we to qualify for them this season.
"But if the SPFL and SFA decided to change the rules so that transfers can't be done in the manner they can be now in future seasons they would receive full support from our club."
The Cove chairman claimed the issue around the signing of Scott is not the only one the SPFL need to look at to ensure the clubs involved in the plays-offs compete on a level playing field.
"They should also address what we see as the unfair manner in which the play-off fixtures are organised," said Keith.
"The club finishing bottom of League 2 always get to play the second leg of the final at home, which is to their advantage.
"It would surely be more sporting to make a draw to decide which leg is played where, as is the case with the play-off semi-final."
Cove would also like the rules adjusted to ensure all registered players who feature in the play-off semis can also play in the final.
Cove recalled Cammy Milne from a loan spell with Junior side Hall Russell so that he could feature in last season's play-off semi, against Edinburgh Spartans, which was permitted under SFA rules.
But Milne was unable to feature in the final, against Cowdenbeath, because that is governed by the SPFL.
Keith said: "It is wrong that a player who is signed for a club can play in the first two games but is then forced to sit out if his team makes it to the final."
Cove were responding to an article that was published by the Aberdeen Press & Journal.
The article, headed 'Anomaly in the Pyramid' claimed Cove's signing of Scott could lead to protests to the SFA and SPFL from League 2 clubs.
An unnamed source is then quoted as saying that is "unfair" on the SPFL sides who have to play a Highland or Lower League side in the Pyramid Play-Offs.
The source also accused Cove of signing "a good number of new players" ahead of playing Spartans last term which "allowed them to rest players as well" and let them get through to the final, against Cowdenbeath, "in better shape than they would have been."
Cove chairman Keith is upset the Press & Journal failed to contact the club for comment before publishing the article.
"If they had we would have been able to advise them it contained glaring inaccuracies," said Keith.
In actual fact, Cove Rangers made no new signings ahead of last season's play-offs.
And far from being "in better shape" for the games against Cowdenbeath, Cove actually faced them with a depleted squad because Grant Campbell, Ryan Strachan and Sam Burnett were all injured. Midfielder Daniel Park also missed the second leg, at Central Park, because his wife was giving birth.
Keith said: "That is the part of the article that upset us the most.
"It is factually incorrect and we could have told the Press & Journal that had they bothered to contact us."