A South Yorkshire football club has launched a bold attempt to enter the Scottish Cup, by claiming an ancient treaty means it is actually based in Scotland.
Doncaster City said it had formally applied to enter next year’s competition, citing an agreement signed in 1134 by English monarch King Stephen which ceded Doncaster to King David I, ruler of Scotland at the time.
The deal, set out in the first Treaty of Durham, was sealed after a successful Scottish invasion which saw King David take over Carlisle and Newcastle, and historians say it was never formally revoked.
The club insisted the bid was not a stunt and pointed out that two other sides located in England - Berwick Rangers and Tweedmouth Rangers - were already permitted to play in Scottish competitions.
Josh Rutherford, of Doncaster City, told BBC Scotland on Thursday that he did not understand “why everyone is laughing” at the plan. Doncaster is around 170 miles south of the Scottish border.
‘I don’t see why not’
“There are two clubs that play in Scotland that are actually geographically situated in England,” he said. “In 1136 Doncaster was ceded to Scotland… and it’s officially never been given back.
“So we’ve explored that option and we’ve applied to the Scottish Football Association. It happens in Wales with Swansea and Cardiff [who play in the English league]. So I don’t see why not.
“We’ve had a few murmurs from people within the Scottish Football Association that they like the idea. But we need some confirmation hopefully.
“We’re not allowed to play in the English FA cup, so if they don’t want us, why not go and play in Scotland? It’s an exciting time in Scotland at the moment, they had a great win over Ukraine last night, so hopefully we can be a part of that.”
He added: “The boys are absolutely chomping at the bit at the idea of a Scottish tour, or maybe one of the Scottish clubs coming down to Doncaster.”
Doncaster City is a newly-formed club, playing in the 13th tier of English football. It has targeted a rapid rise through the leagues and is sponsored by retail giant Sports Direct.
However, sources within the Scottish Football Association have poured cold water on the plan, claiming Doncaster City will not be allowed to enter the showpiece tournament as they do not meet eligibility requirements.
Rules state that clubs must be members of the Scottish FA to enter the Scottish Cup, and meet other requirements, to enter preliminary rounds.
In 2012, the then Mayor of Doncaster, which is to officially become a city in November, called for its residents to be given a vote in the 2014 independence referendum due to evidence that it legally remains part of Scotland.