DUNDEE UNITED last night vowed to fight the decision that has robbed Jason Scotland of his SPL livelihood. The Tannadice club launched a blistering verbal attack on the six-man panel who ruled that Scotland did not measure up to the criteria necessary to secure a Home Office work permit.
Ironically, the panel consisted of five ex-players with a Hibs connection - Murdo MacLeod, Pat Stanton, Tommy McIntyre, Peter Cormack and Tony Higgins.
Scotland was a goalscoring substitute when United knocked Hibs out of the Scottish Cup at the semi-final stage in April.
An insider said: 'That fact was a jocular topic of conversation for the tribunal members but Jason was denied a permit because his number of first-team appearances wasn't considered to be satisfactory.
'He only played in two of Dundee United's last 10 matches and couldn't fulfil his international quota of appearances with his country at the same time.
'Jason was out of favour with his national coach because of a row over his hairstyle, but that
disagreement had ended when he was still being left out of the United side.
'At the end of the day there has to be a more stringent watch kept on who gets to play in the Premier League.'
The Trinidad and Tobago international striker, who was poised to sign a new two-year deal, is now faced with the prospect of having to return to his homeland to salvage his career.
But United insist they won't rest until justice is done in their eyes.
A spokesman said: 'We are astonished at this decision by a panel consisting mainly of ex-footballers who have just taken away the right of one of their fellow professionals to work in this country.
'Basically they have deprived this player of his livelihood and Dundee United of an extremely valuable squad player.
'We have been told that Jason was refused his work permit because he was not of the highest calibre and would not make a significant contribution to the Scottish game.
'However, they seemed to overlook that today football is very much a squad game and Jason was a key element of our team.
'He had that superb ability to turn a match using his undoubted exceptional skills.
'This is the same player who featured in the whole 90 minutes of the Scottish Cup Final.
'He is very much a fans' favourite and is one of the most entertaining players in Scottish football, having won several games for the club in the last two seasons when he played 60 games for United despite also being away on international duty.
'The Scottish Cup semi-final against Hibs was a typical example of this. He came on and scored the winner that took United into the cup final and into Europe.
'Does this sound like someone who is not making a significant contribution to the Scottish game?
'We have now put the matter in the hands of our legal representatives as we intend to fight this injustice to an excellent and popular footballer.'
Scotland is currently on international duty in the Gold Cup in Miami.
Boss Gordon Chisholm had high hopes that the striker would play a big part for the Arabs in the new season after presenting the player's case at Hampden earlier this week.
Scotland had taken to life on Tayside where he was often seen talking to fans in Broughty Ferry where he currently lives.The United spokesman said: 'Jason is deeply upset by this panel slamming the door on him.
'He loved his life in Scotland and playing football in Scotland and they have taken that away from him. A new two-year contract was sitting on the table.
'Jason, understandably, was also sought after by a number of other SPL clubs, which surely is significant.
'This panel of five ex-players and one SPL representative came to what we believe to be an incredible decision considering the player's record since he came to Scotland.
'At a time when the First Minister is trying to encourage foreign workers to come and work and live in Scotland this decision appears to fly totally in the face of his campaign.
'Local politicians are already taking an interest in this disgraceful decision.'
Meanwhile,United defender Lee Mair believes the current financial problems facing Dundee prove he was right to choose Tannadice when he moved back to Scotland.
However, he admits he still finds it hard to watch what is happening at his former club.
Mair said: 'I don't take any satisfaction at all from what's happening at Dens. It upsets me to see my friends and former team-mates forced to take wage cuts.
'I made the decision I did back at the start of the year. No one wants to take pay cuts and I think I'm fortunate I chose to come to United.
'Dundee have been through a hard time but I think they have a bright future because Jim Duffy is a good manager and he'll lead them through this.
'I think they can go on to win the First Division and bounce back at the first attempt.'
Mair, who missed most of last season with a knee ligament problem, is making good progress and expects to be back early in the new campaign.
He said: 'My knee has healed well and the physio expects me to be back a week into the season, so I've got a lot to aim towards.
'I think I was the only player in the country anxiously waiting for pre-season to start. I'm doing most of the same drills as the rest of the lads but I'm not yet into full tackling.