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Disappointment over Scottish league play-off recommendation

By Gavin Musgrove

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Highland League football chiefs have said they are disappointed about a recommendation that the play-off game for promotion to the Scottish Football League division two at the end of this season should be scrapped.

It follows a number of proposals made by the SPFL board yesterday to steer the game through an uncharted period for the game.

The Highland League season was recently curtailed with all the members including Strathspey Thistle unanimously agreeing to award leaders Brora Rangers the title.

A Scottish Highland Football League spokesperson said: "We acutely aware of the challenging public health circumstances that currently prevail and is keen to maintain a sense of proportion about developments in football.

However, the SPFL proposal has ramifications for SHFL member clubs and their place in the Scottish football pyramid.

"It almost goes without saying that the SPFL is faced with a nigh impossible task in seeking to fully satisfy all the issues currently faced by football clubs and football organisations.

"Adoption of the proposals brought forward yesterday is indeed for SPFL member clubs to determine and the SHFL does not seek to offer a view on how SPFL clubs should vote.

"There is, however, significant disappointment that the proposals include cancellation of the play-offs, an integral part of the Scottish football pyramid.

"The Highland League’s continued and acknowledged contribution to the development of the Scottish football pyramid would appear to be set aside in the search for a solution to the conundrums facing the SPFL. This is disappointing.

"When the Highland League unanimously declared Brora Rangers the 2019-20 Highland League Champions, it also decided to offer continued support for the champion club to be given the opportunity to progress up the pyramid.

"The proposal to deny Brora Rangers that opportunity for progression is disappointing and, doubtless, there will be similar feelings among members of the Lowland League.

"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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