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Highland League restructuring

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14 hours ago, Unknown Fan said:

This is an excerpt involving my idea of revamping the Scottish league structure that involves the Highland league region;

At the moment we have;





Scottish League Two
(Ladbrokes League Two)
10 clubs playing 36 games


Highland Football League
(Press & Journal Highland League)
18 clubs playing 34 games

Lowland Football League
(Ferrari Packaging Lowland League)
16 clubs playing 30 games


North Caledonian Football League (Not incorporated)
9 clubs playing 16 games



So that is for now;

42 SPFL clubs

34 Level 5 clubs (All SFA Licence holders)

37 Level 6 clubs (SFA licence not required to enter league though then no Scottish Cup entry without)

So at present the Scottish Pyramid there is a total of 113 Senior clubs including North Caly League (Only Golspie have SFA Licence)

Over the 3 Junior regions there are 158 clubs West 64, East 60 and North 34 over 11 divisions from next year.

Junior clubs can no longer obtain a SFA licence if they remain within the Junior league structure.  Linlithgow & Banks o'Dee being the clever ones, Girvan too.

My proposed revamp;





Scottish Championship
14 clubs playing 38 games

Playing each other twice 26 games then split 7/7 and play each other twice 12 games 

Top 2 promoted 3rd to 5th in playoff with 12th in premiership.  12th plays 5th, 3rd plays 4th, 2 legs, one game final.


Northern Scottish National                                                                                                                                       Southern Scottish National 

16 Clubs playing each other once 15 games in each the Northern and Southern league first half of season (32 Clubs)

The 32 clubs that would compete in these 2 regional leagues of 16 for the first half of the season would be made up of 4 bottom teams Current League One, 10 from League Two, top 10 from Highland league and top 8 from the current Lowland league.  The Tay boundary line would be flexible, hence the Angus, Dundee or Perthshire clubs if in level 3 would possibly play Northern one year Southern the next depending of the demographic of the 32 clubs

Scottish National League

Top 8 in each league then go on to play at a national level 16 club league in the 2nd half of the season playing each other once.  
16 clubs playing a 30 game season   (15 games in regional first half 15 in national 2nd half)

Points gained against bottom 8 cleared, points gained against top 8 carried over from first half of season.

top 2 promoted 3rd to 5th play off for possible promotion with 12th in Championship


Northern Scottish National                                                                                                               Southern Scottish National

16 clubs playing 15 games from first half of season in level 3 above in their regional leagues.

The bottom 8 teams in each league would remain regional and play in leagues of 8 to see which teams would get relegated to level 5.

The points gained against top 8 clubs from first half of season would be carried over. 

The Northern and Southern 2 separate leagues of 8 would then play each other twice 14 games 29 game total

2 clubs relegated possible playoffs too with 3rd bottom and teams finishing 2nd & 3rd in level 5 leagues   

All clubs at this level and above have SFA Licenses only able to gain access by being top of regional league  


Highland league Northern and Southern

2 regional leagues of 14 clubs in each league 26 games total

The Highland Northern would be teams from North Caly plus any other clubs

from the bottom of the current highland league/northern juniors that are within

Highland Council boundary possible parts of Moray too. 

The Southern league clubs in bottom half of current Highland league, Northern Juniors and East junior region north of Tay boundary line    

Lowland Football League East and West

2 regional leagues of 14 clubs in each league 26 games total

the make up of the 28 clubs at this level would be 8 clubs from bottom half of Lowland league

The best of East and West juniors looking to progress in the pyramid

Best of Southern and East of Scotland league 



North Caledonian league 2nd division if required  

North Juniors Top division

East Junior Region Top Division Clubs North of the Tay boundary line 




So with this new system we have;

44 Clubs Levels 1-3 playing at a national level an increase of 2.

Though Level 3-4 (32 clubs 2 leagues of 16 play regional for the first half of the season)

Level 4 SFA licensing is required (16 clubs 2 leagues of 8 2nd half of season)

So 60 clubs are in leagues Levels 1-4 with compulsory SFA licensing.

Level 3-4  (32 Clubs) play each other max of 3 times each.  Stronger clubs each season can go to play at national level and possible promotion to Championship each season.  This league set up at level 3-4 would make sure the strongest teams would be entering the Championship each season regardless of region.

Clubs at Level 5 (56 clubs) have quicker possible access to higher levels and so bigger incentive for Junior clubs / association to join the pyramid.  

So there would be 116 clubs at Levels 1-5 in structured leagues.

1. 14

2. 14

3. 16

4. 16(8,8)     60 clubs total levels 1-4

5. 14-14-14-14   56 clubs

This would be an increase of 3 clubs compared to the 113 clubs in levels 1-6 at the moment.

The Northern Highland Level 5 league on paper would be considerably weaker than the other 3 level 5 leagues though covering a large area and localising travel for the weaker outlying Highland league teams.  Wick, Fort William possibly among their stronger teams.  Little need for any access below this level in this region apart for aspirational amateur teams from the region or Summer league select teams (possible Skye & Lochalsh) 

So more regional leagues, less Annan vs Elgin Christmas cracker derbies and more likely for Junior league clubs to take part. 

Less travel for smaller clubs and more local derbies.    

My logic is that any club with an average of less than 1,000 attendance shouldn't be playing at a national level.


Also many of the Clubs in North Caly, South of Scotland and East of Scotland league are nowhere near as developed or supported as top Junior clubs especially in the East and West Juniors.


Besides all of that for Scottish teams overall to be any force in Europe again a March to November Summer league should be introduced.

Your thoughts, good idea?

A very detailed (and interesting) proposal, but it will never happen !

My  alternativeproposal is :

level 1  -  SPFL Premiership, 12 clubs as at present

level 2  -  SPFL Championship,  increased from 10 to16 clubs

level 3  -  new SPFL National Division,  increased from 10 to16 clubs, by  merger of bottom 4 Division 1 clubs & the 10 Division 2 clubs, plus the Highland & Lowland champions being promoted to fill the 2 SPFL National Division vacancies (for one year only). Thereafter  AUTOMATIC annual promotion  of the level 4 HFL & SLL play-off winners, to replace the bottom SPFL club,  without the opportunity for a playoff reprieve of the latter

level 4  -  Highland & Lowland Leagues, 16 clubs, with bottom 2 clubs relegated each season (to a level 5 league of their choice), subject to 2 "eligible" clubs being promoted from level 5. (see below) 

level 5  -  East of Scotland League, Junior West Super League, Junior East Super League, Junior North Super League (16 clubs in each), with playoffs for the 4 "eligible" champions  (ie only those clubs with an SFA licence) . Theoretically 4 champion clubs would participate in these promotion playoffs, but only if all 4 are licensed. If so, 2 home away playoffs would be drawn from a hat, with the winners of each being promoted. If 3 out of 4 clubs are licensed, then they will each play each other home & away, with the top 2 being promoted. If only 2 out of 4 are licensed, then their promotion is automatic with no play-offs required. If only 1 is licensed, then the number of clubs to be relegated from the HFL and SLL would be reduced to 1, and a 'relegation' playoff would be required, with the winner staying at level 4. If none of the 4 clubs are licensed (unlikely !) , both of the bottom clubs in the HFL and SLL would be reprieved

level 6  -  South of Scotland, North Caledonian, and the 2nd divisions of the 3 Regional Junior Leagues, with champions being promoted to level 5, but ONLY if these clubs want to be promoted (ie no compulsory promotion at this level, and no need for an SFA club licence)

level 7 - the other junior divisions, regionalised/realigned as appropriate, to reduce travelling costs, etc. 

I realise that the Junior SFA 'blazers' will not like this proposal, but the SFA should IMPOSE it, and also redesignate the JSFA as an integrated 'non-league' football association for ALL of the above leagues from level 4 to level 7. Junior clubs at level 5 would  not be allowed to take promotion to level 4,  without the requisite SFA club licence, but conversely would not be 'forced' into obtaining one. This requirement would not be necessary at levels 6 & 7, as promotion & relegation would be based on merit only

IMO the above set up would encourage ambitious junior clubs to up-grade, in the knowledge that they have not 'burnt their (traditional junior) bridges' in doing so. I also recognise that most existing 'junior' and 'senior'  (EoSL, SoSL, NCL) clubs will not seek promotion over 'status quo' (for financial & geographical reasons),  which means that they  can remain at their existing level, by declining promotion. 

It's a win-win solution surely, with an integrated pyramid, and the retention of the existing individual leagues ?




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