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Inverness held talks with leading QC Donald Findlay as they readied to fight all the way over Keatings

© SNSDonald Findlay
Donald Findlay

Inverness Caledonian Thistle had talks with Donald Findlay as part of their fight to obtain justice for James Keatings.

The 28-year-old was set to miss the Challenge Cup Final through suspension, after an SFA tribunal rejected his appeal against a controversial red card.

That surprised the football world. But it outraged the Caley Jags.

With the backing of influential figures such as Gary Lineker and, it has emerged, Findlay, who is both chairman of Cowdenbeath FC and one of the country’s top QCs, they were ready to take it all the way.

But, in what was a stunning reversal, the Association threw out the decision as “not competent” allowing a reconvened panel to revoke the ban and clear Keatings to play in the Final.

This soap opera had a few twists along the way

Scottish football can be like a soap opera at the best of times. But the James Keatings affair has had all the hallmarks of a holiday special.

There was the baffling decision by referee Greg Aitken to send off the Inverness Caley Thistle striker in the first place.

Having already cautioned him in the Challenge Cup semi-final against Rangers last month, he showed him a second yellow card for simulation.

That despite the fact video footage showed clear contact from young Light Blues midfielder Ciaran Dickson.

Given the footage, it was then bewildering for the SFA appeals tribunal to throw out the appeal.

It left Caley Thistle outraged and Keatings dismayed at the prospect of missing a Cup Final, which will be against Raith Rovers at McDiarmid Park on March 28th.

Support for the 28-year-old poured in from all over the football world with social media flooded with condemnation.

Gary Lineker waded in to the row to add a touch of celebrity to the mix with the Match of the Day frontman describing the decision as “an injustice.”

Less publicly, the Caley Jags were themselves taking steps to be seen what could be done with the input of one of the Scottish game’s best-known and most colourful characters.

It has emerged they consulted with Donald Findlay, the current Cowdenbeath chairman and former Rangers vice chairman.

In his day job, Findlay is, of course, an advocate and Queen’s Counsel who has been involved in some of Scotland’s most high-profile legal cases.

Caley Thistle would, it is understood, have been prepared to pursue the matter in the courts themselves if it had come to that.

As it turned out, that was not necessary.

That’s because in what was the most stunning plot development of the whole tale, the SFA threw out the original decision.

It was, they explained, “invalid” because one of the panel members had not considered all available evidence. In layman’s terms, had not watched the video footage.

The services of the individual, who was left anonymous, would not be required in future.

That left Keatings, who was later to memorably describe the experience as having been a rollercoaster, free to appeal again.

He did so and – to the surprise of no one – the reconvened panel revoked the ban.

With the administration out of the way, Inverness Caley Thistle and their striker were able to celebrate what the news boiled down to in football terms.

Namely, that James Keatings will be able to play in the Challenge Cup Final after all.

And given the dramatic events up until now, there would be few who would bet against the forward adding the perfect postscript to the tale by netting the winner in Perth.