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Highland League to have their say on Scottish football reconstruction as part of SPFL task force - and Brora Rangers could go up


By Craig Christie

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HIGHLAND League champions Brora Rangers could be promoted to League 2 next season if SPFL league reconstruction plans win favour.

Brora Rangers in Scottish Cup action last season. The Highland League champions could be given a chance to move up to League 2 through Scottish football reconstruction. Picture: Callum Mackay.
Brora Rangers in Scottish Cup action last season. The Highland League champions could be given a chance to move up to League 2 through Scottish football reconstruction. Picture: Callum Mackay.

League clubs voted to accept an SPFL resolution to end the Championship, League 1 and League 2 season early. The Premiership conclusion has yet to be decided.

The resolution meant league leaders Dundee United, Raith Rovers and Cove Rangers were awarded their respective titles and gained promotion.

Partick Thistle and Stranraer were relegated from the Championship and League 1, while League 2 bottom club Brechin City were spared possible relegation as the proposal also scrapped the league’s play-offs system.

That appeared to close the door on promotion for Highland League champs Brora and Lowland League winners Kelty Hearts, who would have faced each other in a play-off with the winners taking on the League 2 basement side.

However, the resolution has created a pathway for possible league reconstruction.

An SPFL statement read: “If the resolution is approved, the SPFL has also committed to consulting with clubs over the possibility of league restructuring ahead of season 2020/21.”

After confirming the acceptance of the resolution last Wednesday, the league revealed that a reconstruction task force had been formed, led by Hearts chair Ann Budge and Hamilton chair Les Gray.

The new group met for the first time yesterday, with 15 members appointed including Highland League secretary Rod Houston.

It is believed that a favoured option for a new SPFL divisional set-up includes expanding the Premiership to 14 clubs, with the Championship, League 1 and 2 remaining at 10 clubs.

Should that be voted in, it would mean two new clubs being admitted and both Brora and Kelty would be accepted into League 2, with no relegation.

Inverness Caley Thistle could then be promoted along with champions Dundee United from the Championship to the Premiership.

Brora’s promotion would then mean that the Highland League would be reduced from 17 to 16 clubs from next season.

An SHFL spokesperson said: “Notwithstanding the recommended cancellation of play-offs, the Highland League does acknowledge that the SPFL proposal carries a reference to some form of restructuring for season 2020-21.

“That might offer the champion club of both Highland and Lowland Leagues some comfort and a route for progression.

“Be it some form of play-off or some form of restructuring which allows for a small increase in SPFL membership, the credibility of the Scottish football pyramid can but be enhanced by some imaginative decision-making and the Highland League stands ready to take part in that process.”


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