Raith Rovers boss John Hughes thanks Celtic for trying to help over keeper crisis – then fires verbal volley at SPFL

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Raith Rovers manager John Hughes has thanked Celtic for bending over backwards in a bid to ease their goalkeeping crisis – only for Logan Bailly to reject the chance to move to Stark’s Park.

Hughes personally spoke to Hoops counterpart Brendan Rodgers about recruiting the Belgian on a loan deal after injuries to Kevin Cuthbert, Aaron Lennox and Conor Brennan left Rovers without a recognised keeper ahead of Tuesday’s 1-0 defeat to Ayr United.

Raith forward Ryan Stevenson was forced to don the gloves for the match in a situation that Hughes has branded, ‘embarrassing for Scottish football’ after the SPFL rejected a request to postpone the Championship clash.

(pic: Raith TV)

Hughes had also enlisted the help of friend and former Celtic number two John Collins to try and persuade Bailly to sign but the 31-year-old decided against the switch late on Monday evening.

Hughes said: “We thought we had one from Celtic but the boy decided he didn’t fancy coming.

“Celtic bent over backwards to try and help us, even on Tuesday they were trying to help us out for the best of Scottish football.”

Speaking to Raith TV, he added: “I think the goalkeeper situation is diabolical to tell you the truth and it’s embarrassing for Scottish football. No doubt they (the SPFL) will try and turn it round on Raith Rovers.

“They’ll all dive for cover, ‘we need to cover this up’.

“Neil Donaster (SPFL chief executive) has to stick his head up the above and he needs to come out with his explanation, and what he’ll say is that we had ample time to try and get a goalkeeper in.”

Confirming the talks with Celtic, Raith chief executive Eric Drysdale said: “Our preference was to find an over-21 goalkeeper with experience and John Hughes was on the phone to Brendan Rodgers during the English League Cup final game, he was talking to Brendan and then talking to me.

“Celtic were very helpful to us. A player was put our way. Everything was tied up but suddenly the Celtic goalkeeper was non-contactable. John Collins was acting on our behalf trying to speak to the player, trying to persuade him to come down to the Championship.

“But ultimately the player decided he didn’t want to do that.”

Hearts

Hughes, meanwhile, has accused the SPFL of double standards after Hearts successfully requested to have a match postponed against his Inverness side last April.

A sickness bug wiped out eight first team players at Tynecastle and left Hearts with 17-year-old Kelby Mason as their only fit goalkeeper.

Hughes added: “I remember last year when Hearts pulled out, I phoned up (SPFL secretary) Iain Blair and he said: ‘there’s nothing I can do’.

“He should have a right good look at himself because he’s let Scottish football down.They’re just making a mockery of it.

“They need to have a right good look at themselves. I hope they’re embarrassed.

“The guys that sit and vote and put their hand up for it to go ahead, half of them couldn’t kick the blankets off the bed, never played football. That’s the problem – they don’t know what it’s all about.

“Half of them might be their on self-interest, our brand is bad enough as it us.

“They’ll try and swing is and say this is the rules. Rubbish, they let Hearts away with it last year.”

Tribute

Drysdale, meanwhile, has revealed that goalkeeper Cuthbert had made himself available despite having undergone a hernia operation less than a fortnight ago.

Drysdale added: “I want to pay tribute to Kevin Cuthbert even though he had taken leave of his senses. He had an operation and the stitches are still in his leg and his groin to the extent he can’t even wash properly in the shower.

“Yet he was prepared to take to the field against Ayr for the team.”

The SPFL, meanwhile, have explained why they refused a request from Rovers to have the game postponed.

A statement read: “Raith Rovers had a number of options open to them once their only fit goalkeeper was injured.

“They could have brought in an under-21 goalkeeper, or an out-of-contract goalkeeper of any age, in each case without any permission from the SPFL board.

“They could also have sought permission from the SPFL board to bring in a goalkeeper of any age on an emergency basis.

“All of these options were explained to Raith Rovers, who chose to do none of these things and instead requested a postponement on the day of the match.”

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