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Brora Rangers call for Scottish football pyramid play-offs to be reinstated following collapse of reconstruction talks

By Craig Christie

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HIGHLAND League champions Brora Rangers say their hopes of promotion to the SPFL are “certainly not extinguished” despite the collapse of reconstruction options.

Brora Rangers were awarded the Highland League title but must now fight for their right to a pyramid play-off. Picture: Callum Mackay.
Brora Rangers were awarded the Highland League title but must now fight for their right to a pyramid play-off. Picture: Callum Mackay.

A proposal to create a three division, 14-14-16 structure league next season, with Brora and Lowland League winners Kelty Hearts automatically promoted to the SPFL third tier, had been put forward by a league reconstruction group.

But the plan fell through last week when it failed to gain support from at least 11 of the 12 Premiership clubs, which it needed to progress to voting level.

Brora are now demanding that their pyramid play-off match against Kelty is reinstated, with the winners taking on League 2 bottom side Brechin City for a place in League 2 next term.

The Sutherland club was awarded the Highland League title when the season was ended prematurely due to the coronavirus pandemic in March, as they were 13 points clear at the top and destined for the title.

Similary, Kelty Hearts were handed the Lowland League crown and under the normal process of the SPFL pyramid system, the two champions would have played off for the chance to meet the League 2 basement side.

The Covid-19 outbreak put paid to all play-offs but Brora and Kelty’s hopes were raised when the league reconstruction group was formed, and a new three-tier set-up was being considered.

Had those proposals been put forward and approved by member clubs, both Brora and Kelty would have played in a 16-club third tier alongside Brora's former Highland League foes Cove Rangers, Elgin City and Peterhead next season.

When the reconstruction option was shattered by the Premiership clubs last week, it seemed to dash Brora’s aspirations, but club chairman William Powrie insists his club will fight on for justice.

“I wish to let our fans and followers know that despite the breakdown of the restructuring talks when escalated to the Premier League clubs, we will still be continuing our canvassing within the press, media and other clubs for the natural justice that both Kelty Hearts and ourselves deserve,” he said on his club's website.

“Our hopes of promotion whilst dented are certainly not extinguished, and one only needs a cursory view of social media to see just how many people around both the Scottish and wider football communities are right behind us in our cause.

“One thing that is for certain, is the swing of the pendulum of emotions as hopes are raised and dashed repeatedly as events unfold almost on a daily basis.The latest set back is just an event in time and as condescending as the Premier clubs dismissal of restructuring plans were, I have every confidence that natural justice will prevail with either an automatic uplift into the SPFL or the reinstatement of the prematurely cancelled pyramid play-offs.”

The Brora chair has called for the play-off matches to be played to give his club an opportunity to earn their place in League 2.

“This mess which Scottish Football finds itself in will eventually have to be sorted (and it will be) and the collateral damage repaired. The SPFL could offer the first of many conciliatory olive branches by ensuring that the play-offs are reinstated and Brechin City put forward to play the winners of the game(s) between ourselves and Kelty Hearts.”

Powrie said Brora appreciated Highland League secretary Rod Houston fighting the champions' corner on the SPFL reconstruction group but said the proposals raised were doomed to fail.

"I would like to place on record my thanks to Rod Houston who represented the SHFLinterests on the restructuring work group.

"But as it transpired its efforts were always going to be a sideshow as long as there was not even a willingness for some Premier clubs to look further than their own interests.

"I absolutely understand why these clubs are worried and concerned about their own issues, but I struggle to see why a more kindly generous view could not have been shown to the issues of many clubs beneath the Premier League who are now facing into their own very serious issues.

"I take absolutely no comfort from Dave Cormack’s (Aberdeen chairman) remarks that reconstruction could be revisited. Does that mean three weeks, three months or three years? We and many of the other clubs disadvantaged deserved more than that."

Meanwhile the SPFL will hold an extraordinary general meeting tomorrow (Tuesday), after Rangers, Hearts and Stranraer made the call for an independent enquiry into the way the league's recent vote on how to end the season was conducted.

Powrie added: "Regardless of what emerges from the SPFL EGM, this extremely draining saga has plenty of legs left in it yet, and it’s important we all remain considered and positive.

"We have a compelling case to make, and I will continue to do so."

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