More IRN-BRU Cup controversy as James McDonaugh describes evening kick-off for Edinburgh City’s semi-final in Wales as ‘a disaster’ & reveals his players will not arrive back in the capital until 5 a.m. on Sunday morning

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BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport

THE IRN-BRU Cup was not broke, so why fix it?

That is the view of Edinburgh City boss James McDonaugh as he became the latest figure to take a swipe at the SPFL’s stubborn stance to include clubs out-with Scotland in the competition.

Even with a travel allowance of £4,000, City will be substantially out of pocket following their trip to Wales on Saturday, with McDonaugh and club chiefs agreeing that an overnight stay on Friday would be required to have any hope of defeating Connah’s Quay Nomads.

McDonaugh is also furious that the fixture is taking place at 7.25 p.m., meaning the League Two side have been forced to find facilities for a light training session on Saturday afternoon and expect to get back to Edinburgh at FIVE A.M. on Sunday morning.

“It’s a 7.25p.m. kick-off and – there’s been a lot of talk about logistics in this competition – well, that time is a disaster really,” said McDonaugh. “It’s one thing being drawn away from home in Wales, it’s another being forced to play at that time.

“The club understandably can’t afford to put us up in a hotel for a second night so we need to travel back straight after the game. Our players could be getting home at five in the morning on Sunday.

“We didn’t get any say in that at all. We were just told that’s when we’d be playing. It’s obviously live on the Welsh TV channel (Sgorio) but it is just terrible for us, to put it bluntly.”

Yet another travel nightmare for a Scottish side is likely to further sour views towards the competition’s revamp. East Fife travelled to Dublin to face Bohemians a fortnight ago, only to have the game called off five minutes before kick-off due to a frozen pitch.

That quarter-final had already been re-arranged from November due to the fact the Irish Premier League season ended the previous month and many of their players would be out of contract – a situation that the SPFL somehow failed to foresee when they invited clubs from the Emerald Isle.

McDonaugh has no qualms about the standard of teams being invited to participate from England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Ireland, but thinks the problems have gone well beyond ‘teething’ issues and remains baffled by the desire to change the tournament in the first place.

“I have always liked this competition,” continued McDonaugh. “It was a spectacle in the years that Hibs, Rangers and Hearts were in it and, even before that, it had so much value as it was, with just Scottish sides.

“If Connah’s Quay go and win the tournament then fair play to them, they will have deserved it. But, off the pitch, the situations that have cropped up this season prove how hard it is for part-time clubs to cope with the journeys they are being asked to make.

“It is so difficult to survive as it is, so much money already goes out of the game – this is just more. It’s needless.

“You look at that East Fife tie [vs Bohemians]. First of all, it couldn’t be played on the original date – a problem that a lot of people forgot about – and then it gets cancelled for the weather. It should never have happened.

“My question is then: if our game gets called off on Saturday, do we get a bye to the final? Seriously. Now, thankfully the weather will be fine, but my point stands. These are more than just teething problems at this stage.”

However, McDonaugh can separate the logistical problems from the potential glory of reaching a first-ever cup final since becoming a league club.

He added: “Regardless of who is in this tournament, to reach the final would be incredible for this group of players.

“I’m quite grounded and level-headed, that’s my character. But, it would be one of the biggest achievements in the club’s history to get to the final. Even to just get this far has been a brilliant effort.”

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