Restructuring of pyramid continues

icon playermove18 June ~ The 12 clubs chosen to compete in Scotland's new Lowland League were finalised by the Scottish FA (SFA) on Monday. Three clubs, Preston Athletic and Spartans from the East of Scotland and Threave Rovers from the South of Scotland, were already assured a place in the new league because they hold SFA national club licences. The remaining nine places were decided at a specially convened meeting held to determine the make up of the new base level on the Scottish League ladder.

Seventeen clubs had their applications considered in the final decision process from an initial 27 that expressed interest and while clubs from the Junior ranks were invited to apply, none of them took up the offer before the deadline on June 12. The nine other clubs accepted are Gretna, Dalbeattie Star, East Kilbride, Edinburgh City, Gala Fairydean, Selkirk, Stirling University, Whitehill Welfare and Vale of Leithen.

Proposals are that from 2014-15 the winners of the new Lowland League will play-off against the champions from the existing Highland League with the victors earning the right to play for promotion against the Scottish Third Division's bottom-placed club. Stewart Regan, the chief executive of the SFA said: "This is an exciting opportunity for all 12 clubs, and another step forward for league reconstruction in Scotland. It's important that ambitious clubs are given opportunities to progress. With the Scottish Lowland Football League running in tandem with the Scottish Highland Football League from next season, we are on track to create a pyramid system feeding into the senior leagues."

The nine successful applicants have been chosen because of their current infrastructure or commitment to achieving the national licensing standards before May 2015. Last week's decision to merge the SFL and SPL into one new body called the SPFL is expected to strengthen the financial position of the clubs in the top two tiers. So this new addition to the Scottish football structure should at least breath new life into the lower echelons. Mark Godfrey

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