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Highland League secretary says options open after Cove promotion

By Jonathan Clark

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Highland League secretary Rod Houston says Inverness Colts entering a team into the Highland League and the competition going ahead with 17 teams are both options after Cove Rangers’ promotion.

Highland League champions Cove thrashed League Two club Berwick Rangers 7-0 on aggregate, 4-0 at home and 3-0 away, to secure their place in the SPFL next season. Berwick will drop into the Lowland League.

That leaves 17 sides in the Highland League for the next campaign. While an 18th team being found remains an option, the league could also go ahead as it stands –a team down on the usual amount.

The league had 15 teams for years until 2009 saw the introduction of Formartine United, Turriff United and Strathspey Thistle and going ahead with an odd number this year is no problem, according to Rod Houston.

“Playing the competition with 17 teams is one of the options,” he told the Northern Scot.

“Inverness Colts joining is another one of the options that is available to the members.”

All of these options will be discussed after an AGM has taken place on Monday, with only “informal discussions” having taken place so far. Any club that is looking to join the league would have to go through a formal application process, Houston added.

With their convincing play-off victory, Cove have become the first Highland League team to gain promotion on the pitch.

Houston congratulated the Aberdeen side for that, and argued the winners of the play-off between the Highland and Lowland League champions should be promoted automatically.

“Cove have harboured this ambition to play in the SPFL and I’m pleased they have achieved that. They were convincing in the play-off.

“We have been arguing for years that ‘club 42’ should be relegated and the winners of the play-off should get into League Two.

“We will continue to argue for that.”

Buckie Thistle vice-chairman and Highland League president Raymond Cardno, pictured above, echoed those thoughts.

He said: “The one thing we want is that the winners of the Highland League and Lowland League match are automatically promoted and that the club finishing bottom of League Two go down automatically.”

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