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Steven Beacom: Europa League pain a pity for Cliftonville

Cliftonville fans were dreaming of facing Liverpool or Celtic in the Europa League group stages when news broke that CSKA Sofia, their opponents in the last round, had played an ineligible player against them.

Unfortunately for the Reds, UEFA rules state that any complaint must be made within 24 hours of the game, but this matter only came to light weeks later.

It’s a pity as Cliftonville could have beaten Welsh side TNS (Sofia’s opponents tonight) and qualified for the group stages, earning them close to a million quid.

To some Reds fans though even that would not have made up for 1999 when the Reds were disqualified from playing in the Irish Cup final for fielding an ineligible player in the semi-final.

Belfast Telegraph