Hearts of Liddesdale AFC are close to folding and have taken the decision not to compete next season while they try to solve a cross-border player problem at the club.
The Newcastleton-based outfit have been fighting to survive ever since the Scottish Football Association (SFA) ruled that they had fallen foul of rules which state that players cannot play in leagues in both England and Scotland.
As the club is so close to the border, many of their players choose to play in Sunday leagues in England as well as the Border Amateur League (BAL), but this ruling has meant that they now have to play in one or the other. It has left the club short of players and unable to field a team in the BAL, but despite attempts to seek special dispensation, efforts to resolve the club’s future have been unsuccessful.
Club secretary Ann Brough said: “Myself and everyone involved at the club are deeply upset at having to take this decision.
“It is hugely frustrating that the SFA have refused to allow us special dispensation, and I find it astounding that they are willing to see a successful club fold simply because of these rules.”
Chairman for the last four years Alec Matheson, who stood down from the post last week, told TheSouthern: “It was always my intention to stand down and make way for some new blood, but to do it under these circumstances is very sad.”
The club even enrolled local MSP John Lamont to fight their corner, but despite the best efforts of everyone they have been unable to convince the SFA to change their minds.
“It is ludicrous that it has come to this, and we now risk seeing a successful football club fold for good,” said Mr Lamont.
“With Newcastleton being only four miles away from the border, it would make sense to give them special dispensation, and it beggars belief that those organising the league have refused to budge.
“Hearts are not only a successful side, but one that was also investing in developing youth players in the region. They did a lot of good in the local community, but this work now threatens to be undone by their closure.
“I will continue to push for a solution to this issue, but unless something is done soon, then it will be too late.”