JASON SCOTLAND will say goodbye to his Dundee United teammates before flying back to Trinidad this morning.
The Tangerines had hoped to hear news of their appeal to the Home Office to overturn the decision taken by a panel of ex-footballers to deny the striker a new work permit.
However, the bombing incidents in London yesterday meant the government department had to prioritise its business and no decision from immigration minister Tony McNulty was relayed to them.
Scotland’s short-term visa expires today and so he has no option but to leave the country.
United will still plough ahead with their attempt to overturn the SPL committee’s original ruling, although Courier Sport understands that when an answer is forthcoming it will be in the negative.
It is a sorry situation for the player who was settled in the city, has a Scots-born girl friend and had been offered a fresh two-year contract by the Tangerines.
He also played the whole of last season’s Tennent’s Scottish Cup final, scored the goal against Hibernian that got the team to Hampden and was a fans’ favourite.
It is all because players’ union boss Tony Higgins, radio pundit Murdo MacLeod, Peter Cormack, Pat Stanton and Tommy McIntyre—all former Hibs men—and SPL secretary Iain Blair decided “his abilities are not such that he enhances Scottish football.”
Manager Gordon Chisholm’s heart went out to his striker last night.
“Jason is going back to Trinidad tomorrow morning,” confirmed Chisholm.
“He was given a visa for a week and we had hoped to hear news of the appeal by now.
“It could be as late as next week before we get a final decision.
“I understand events in London have meant the Home Office have had to prioritise what they are doing—and that’s understandable.
“Jason is upset to be going away and I feel so sorry for him.
“He is going through a very hard time and this is emotionally draining for him.
“But he knows we are doing everything we can and will keep working to get him back in the country.”
There was a strongly-worded response to the news of the player’s departure from Dundee East MP Stewart Hosie who, along with other local and national politicians, had backed his case.
Mr Hosie, a lifelong United fan, is now determined to make sure no-one else has to suffer Scotland’s fate.
“This is an outrageous decision that takes away a player’s livelihood and denies fans the right to see a talented player,” he said.
“This may be the end of the line for Jason Scotland’s Dundee United career but, so that no other player or club has to go through this again, I intend to write to the minister over the summer to ask for the law to be changed.
“No team should have to lose their investment because of a daft decision like this.”
Scotland’s agent Mike Berry hit out at the men who sat in judgment on his case, accusing them of putting his client through “torture.”
But he has not given up hope that the decision will be overturned.
“Although Jason is going back to Trinidad we are still positive we will get a favourable outcome in all of this,” said Berry.
“Playing in the Scottish Cup final was the highlight of his career and since then the SPL panel have put him through something similar to Chinese water torture.
“Every day he has had this hanging over him—the decision was just ridiculous.”
“Obviously Jason is upset at having to go back but I have arranged for him to train with a local side in Trinidad so that should help clear his head.
“On his behalf I would like to thank the people of Dundee, who have rallied around him with magnificent support.”
With Scotland on his way, Chisholm laid down a challenge to Collin Samuel, the other Trinidadian striker in his team.
“It is two years now since Sammy joined United and it is time for him to show us what he truly has,” said Chisholm.
“He has pace and when he is running at defenders he is a very exciting player, but he loses concentration at times.”
Meanwhile, trialist goalkeeper Rami Shaaban arrived yesterday and should feature in the Discovery Cup tournament that kicks off at Tannadice tomorrow.
Stuart Duff trained today following the successful scan on his knee, while defender Lee Mair will see a specialist regarding his knee next week.