Hamilton 'have no intention' of hosting East Kilbride v Celtic
The Scottish FA had announced that New Douglas Park would be the venue for the Scottish Cup match.
Hamilton Academical have announced that they "have no intention" of hosting the Scottish Cup tie between East Kilbride and Celtic.
The Premiership club have denied that New Douglas Park will be the stand-in venue for East Kilbride, whose own K-Park is not suitable to host what will be the biggest game in the club's history.
Hamilton's statement is in opposition to the Scottish FA, who had publicly announced that the match on February 7 would take place at New Douglas Park. The governing body's decision had disappointed East Kilbride who had asked for clarification on the decision-making process, only to be told that it was in accordance with competition rules.
In a statement on their official website, a Hamilton spokesperson said: "It has recently been reported that we will be hosting the William Hill Scottish Cup 5th round fixture between East Kilbride and Celtic on Sunday 7th February.
"We have a full programme of Academy, Youth and Community events already planned for that weekend and have no intention of altering our club programme and as a result will not be in a position to make New Douglas Park available to stage the tie."
East Kilbride 'gobsmacked' by the situation
East Kilbride FC chairman Mark Horner told STV: "We are in the dark. We are gobsmacked with the situation and we are waiting to talk to the Scottish FA.
"We sent them a letter yesterday to ask if New Douglas Park was big enough due to ticket demand. We haven't heard anything back.
"We have had over 1,000 enquires ranging from two, four and six tickets – we could have 4,000 supporters... then you’ve got to add Celtic fans.
"Hamilton not hosting was news to us. We heard via the media."
East Kilbride reached the fifth round of the Scottish Cup by defeating Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale to set up a lucrative tie with Celtic.
The club held preliminary discussions over possible venues for the match and considered Hampden, Fir Park, New Douglas Park and Celtic Park.
However, the Scottish FA said that the decision to move the tie to Hamilton was "taken in accordance with the terms of Scottish Cup Competition Rule 13 “Grounds for Ties” on the basis that the Scottish FA had been advised by Police Scotland that this tie could not proceed at K-Park Training Academy on the grounds of spectator safety and security – a view shared by the Association’s administration.
"This matter was discussed at a meeting at K-Park on 14 January, attended by the East Kilbride Chairman, Mark Horner.
"Related to that meeting, the club was requested to submit venue selection proposals in the event of a home tie against Celtic FC by Monday, 18 January. During a subsequent telephone call, this deadline was moved back to Tuesday 19 January – at the request of the club – to allow further time for the consideration of/discussion with potential venues.
"On Tuesday, 19 January, the Scottish FA Board of Directors was provided with a paper putting forward the venue preferences of East Kilbride FC:
1. K-Park, East Kilbride
2. Hampden Park
3. Celtic Park
4. Broadwood / Excelsior Stadium / Firhill
5. New Douglas Park
"On Wednesday 20 January, on the basis of Rule 13, the decision of the Scottish FA Board was communicated to the club by e-mail and confirmed as remaining under embargo until the conclusion of Wednesday evening’s tie against Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale."
Section 13 of the Scottish Cup competition rules states:
“Notwithstanding anything which is contained in Rule 11 if a club notifies the Association that it is unable to play a Cup match at its registered ground as detailed in the Official Return (Rule 6 and the Articles of Association refer) for whatever reason and the Board is satisfied of the validity of such reason, the match shall be played at the nearest registered ground of at least equivalent capacity which in the opinion of the Board is most suitable for the occasion.
“If a replay should be necessary, it will take place at the ground of its opponents.”