Jorge Cadete’s ‘Conditionality Clause’ and corruption at the SFA

JORGE CADETE is in town and is likely to be introduced the Celtic support at some point tomorrow afternoon, probably to do the Paradise Windfall draw at half time. He is sure to get a very warm welcome.

We thought we’d have a look back at the the role the SFA played in preventing Cadete being available to playing in the semi-final of the Scottish Cup that season.

The fact that our opponents in that semi-final was Rangers would have been entirely coincidental, after all the SFA is completely impartial and treats all clubs the same…

There were remarkable scenes at Parkhead when Jorge Cadete was introduced to the Celtic fans in the 37,017 crowd before the league match against Partick Thistle on 24 February 1996. The frizzy-haired Portuguese international was still wrapped in red tape while wrangling went on with club side Sporting Lisbon to come to an agreement about his transfer.

The rain was spiralling from the ominous, angry clouds above the east end of Glasgow as Cadete took to the pitch, waving and smiling radiantly at his new set of soon-to-be beguiled followers. Celtic won 4-0, but the loudest cheer of the afternoon rang around the ground when the player kneeled to pick up some blades of grass and kiss them. Without kicking a ball, Cadete became an instant hero with the fans.

On 1 April, though, the Parkhead fans were in raptures after Jorge Cadete, following a delay of FIVE WEEKS waiting for his clearance, finally made his debut against Aberdeen. Tommy Burns was hoping the late introduction of the prolific marksman might just give Celtic the impetus to get over the finishing line. The Portuguese striker came on for Andreas Thom in the seventy-third minute and two minutes later scored with practically his first touch of the ball. The Dons had already taken a battering and were trailing by four goals, two apiece from Pierre van Hooijdonk and Simon Donnelly. Peter Grant created the opportunity with a raking pass through the already-exhausted defence and Cadete swept onto it, carried it on and whacked the ball past the advancing Michael Watt. You only get one chance to make a first impression and the Portuguese striker didn’t pass up the opportunity.

Now there was the little matter of a Scottish Cup semi-final meeting with Rangers at Hampden on Sunday. And there was drama even before the kick-off.

Fergus was like a dog with a bone on this matter

Celtic were informed by Jim Farry, the Scottish Football Association Chief Executive, they would NOT be allowed to field Cadete. Apparently, he had not been registered in time for the national competition although the Scottish League had already been satisfied that everything was in order to allow him to play against Aberdeen. Fergus McCann was not convinced and immediately sought legal advice. It was a courtroom saga that would be drawn out over almost three years. The stubborn Celtic Managing Director refused to accept any of the explanations put forward by Farry, who was known as an infuriatingly bumptious and punctilious powerbroker within Scottish football’s HQ.

Jim Farry was sacked for gross misconduct

The case revolved around the wording of an International Transfer Certificate for Cadete. Celtic forwarded the ITC to the SFA on 7 March 1996, with all the other relevant paperwork arriving a fortnight earlier. Initially, the club believed the player was a free agent. He wasn’t, but that should have had absolutely no bearing on Farry registering Cadete. Celtic could not convince him of this because of a ‘conditionality clause’ within the ITC. Under law, this was an irrelevance, as a fax from the world’s governing football body, FIFA, explained.

Yet, it was not until Celtic lodged a third application to register the player at the end of March that Farry was eventually persuaded of the fact. Under the SFA’s 14-day clearance rule, that was too late for Cadete to face Rangers. On 8 March 1999 Farry was sacked for gross misconduct. McCann had won his argument, but it was too late to help Celtic’s Scottish Cup cause three years earlier.

Adapted from The Winds of Change, with kind permission from the publisher and available now at

About Author

The Celtic Star founder and editor David Faulds has edited numerous Celtic books over the past decade or so including several from Lisbon Lions, Willie Wallace, Tommy Gemmell and Jim Craig. Earliest Celtic memories include a win over East Fife at Celtic Park and the 4-1 League Cup loss to Partick Thistle as a 6 year old. Best game? Easy 4-2, 1979 when Ten Men Won the League. Email

Comments are closed.