East Stirlingshire are waiting to find out whether they can field Ivorian striker Guy Tahin in Saturday’s important league encounter at Annan.
The player has been prevented from playing in SPFL League Two matches by a rule which bans amateur players from making league appearances if they sign for a club outside the transfer window.
It has meant Tahin’s only chances to put on a Shire shirt have come in the Scottish Cup and in the under-20 team as an over-age player, where he has already helped himself to four goals in just two appearances.
Now Shire have made an appeal to the SPFL board to have the rule relaxed for clubs in League One and League Two and are awaiting a decision.
“The rule was one that was created by the old SPL and has migrated onto the new league’s rule book,” said Shire secretary, Tadek Kopszywa. “We can understand why it would make sense in a world where all the clubs are full-time and first team players are all professional.
“But for clubs at our level of competition it makes no sense. We have one team in our own division, Queen’s Park, whose entire playing staff is amateur and, in our own case, a third of our players have signed as amateurs.
“Professional players who are free agents are allowed to sign outwith transfer windows and play league football, so we don’t see why clubs who routinely field amateurs in first team games, as we do, should be restricted in this way,” he said.
“Guy has only ever played amateur. He has never been a professional player in this country and he wants to try to see if he can play at the highest level his ability allows.”
The Shire secretary was at pains to point out that the situation extends beyond the case of one particular player. He says the club can only afford to develop a youth structure if the kids they sign are amateur and it could, potentially, stop the progression of a talented teenager.
“Like every club we do our best to sign our squad of players when the transfer window is open and we are mostly successful in doing that,” he said. “However, we may end up in the kind of situation we have right now where a whole list of our senior players are out.
“It means that we have kids playing in the first team on a Saturday and the under-20s on a Monday. We could be doing with some more kids, signed on amateur forms, for the Development League.
“But as it stands we’d have to say to them if they signed and did well in the under-20s they’d have to wait months before they could play in the first team.”
Shire coach Craig Tully is hoping more of his injured players will be available to the trip to Galabank on Saturday. Hopes are highest for Chris Townsley and Max Wright to make their return to the squad after weeks on the sidelines.
Despite the threadbare nature of the squad he took to Arbroath last weekend, Tully was far from happy with the performances of those who were given a jersey and is contemplating making changes.
He knows he needs to revive fortunes after two successive heavy league defeats which have forced Shire closer to the bottom of the League Two table.