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Robert James

North Caledonian League Expansion

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The NCL has reinvented itself during the last couple of years, with Invergordon, St Duthus, Inverness Athletic, Orkney and Bunliddlh (re)joining the league competition.  Looking at its website, it now appears that Balintore FC is also intending to re-enter the NCL next year.  Now 9 league clubs, with 4 others playing in some of the NCL cup competitions (only).

Will the likes of Dornoch or Dingwall also seek to (re)join this long established league from the far north ?

 

 

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5 minutes ago, Robert James said:

The NCL has reinvented itself during the last couple of years, with Invergordon, St Duthus, Inverness Athletic, Orkney and Bunliddlh (re)joining the league competition.  Looking at its website, it now appears that Balintore FC is also intending to re-enter the NCL next year.  Now 9 league clubs, with 4 others playing in some of the NCL cup competitions (only).

Will the likes of Dornoch or Dingwall also seek to (re)join this long established league from the far north ?

 

 

To what end is it expanding, are you thinking NCL will become HL2 ?

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Thing is, it's as likely to retract as expand, such is the nature of clubs ran on an  amateur basis. Bonar Bridge, Balintore, Tain Thistle, Sutherland United, Muir of Ord, Dornoch, Dingwall Thistle etc  all going (and coming as well in some instances) since the millennium. Good to see Bunlillidh Thistle back though.

Edited by cmontheloknow

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I've always been intrigued by this league. If it is considered 'senior' then why is it not part of the pyramid like East of Scotland or South of Scotland?

Also what are the logistics of Shetland and Orkney playing in this? It must be an absolute nightmare for travel and expense? Or am I totally wrong? Apologies for my ignorance!

Edited by edinabear

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On ‎10‎/‎11‎/‎2017 at 11:21, edinabear said:

I've always been intrigued by this league. If it is considered 'senior' then why is it not part of the pyramid like East of Scotland or South of Scotland?

It hasn't joined - unlike EOSL and SOSL. (In any case only Golspie would be eligible for promotion- and only if they got lights as HL require those/maybe seats too - although Halkirk are said to have HL ambitions; and unclear how could work given most HL clubs are south/east of Inverness).

It's always been the "poor relation" - holds no SFA voting powers or committee seats; no qualifying slots for Scottish Cup; etc. - and only recently started having SFA-appointed referees.

Only really senior as it used to be quasi-HL reserve league.
 

On ‎10‎/‎11‎/‎2017 at 11:21, edinabear said:

Also what are the logistics of Shetland and Orkney playing in this? It must be an absolute nightmare for travel and expense? Or am I totally wrong? Apologies for my ignorance!

Shetland... and Lewis & Harris... only play in certain cups.

Orkney home games kick-off at 12:30pm - to fit around ferries - and teams leave their transport on mainland, travel as foot passengers then Orkney collect them in a minibus.

Edited by HibeeJibee

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It hasn't joined - unlike EOSL and SOSL. (In any case only Golspie would be eligible for promotion- and only if they got lights as HL require those/maybe seats too


I've always wondered how entitled HL are to ask for additional requirements. Surely we should have a consistent requirements for every level of the pyramid regardless of geographical location.

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On 11/11/2017 at 23:13, parsforlife said:


I've always wondered how entitled HL are to ask for additional requirements. Surely we should have a consistent requirements for every level of the pyramid regardless of geographical location.

I think that's down to the extra games clubs in HL play - 34 instead of 30 - clubs need floodlights in the HL with the extra midweek games, not the case with the LL.

 

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On 10/11/2017 at 00:13, Booker-T said:

To what end is it expanding, are you thinking NCL will become HL2 ?

The NCL doesn't seek to become part of the pyramid under the current rules, even if the HFL were to end its closed shop attitude, because  compulsory promotion for licensed clubs (if enforced by the SFA in the north) would kill  NCL clubs on geographical, logistical, and financial grounds.  In the past, Wick, Brora & Fort William have left the NCL for the HFL, because they have chosen to apply for membership at various times when the Highland was admitting additional clubs. Golspie holds an SFA club licence, but the HFL requires all clubs to have floodlights under its rules so it is debarred anyway. Shetland FC, and Lewis & Harris FC only play in some of the NCL cup competitions,, because of  their remoteness, the weather & the Atlantic ocean in winter !

As an aside, NCL support levels are better than many of the SoSL clubs, which isn't surprising given the population (and catchment areas) of towns like Thurso, Kirkwall, Tain, etc. Also, the whisky is excellent when the weather is rough !  

HFL 2 has been mooted, but it would need to have "north"  (NCL) and "east", divisions,  with the latter replacing the North Junior Super league. (This would no doubt be supported by  HFL  'promotion seekers'  Banks 'O Dee, but no other north juniors to date.  Also, the NCL would not willingly surrender its historical independence as a free standing 'senior' league.

 

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21 hours ago, Robert James said:

The NCL doesn't seek to become part of the pyramid under the current rules, even if the HFL were to end its closed shop attitude, because  compulsory promotion for licensed clubs (if enforced by the SFA in the north) would kill  NCL clubs on geographical, logistical, and financial grounds.  In the past, Wick, Brora & Fort William have left the NCL for the HFL, because they have chosen to apply for membership at various times when the Highland was admitting additional clubs. Golspie holds an SFA club licence, but the HFL requires all clubs to have floodlights under its rules so it is debarred anyway. Shetland FC, and Lewis & Harris FC only play in some of the NCL cup competitions,, because of  their remoteness, the weather & the Atlantic ocean in winter !

As an aside, NCL support levels are better than many of the SoSL clubs, which isn't surprising given the population (and catchment areas) of towns like Thurso, Kirkwall, Tain, etc. Also, the whisky is excellent when the weather is rough !  

HFL 2 has been mooted, but it would need to have "north"  (NCL) and "east", divisions,  with the latter replacing the North Junior Super league. (This would no doubt be supported by  HFL  'promotion seekers'  Banks 'O Dee, but no other north juniors to date.  Also, the NCL would not willingly surrender its historical independence as a free standing 'senior' league.

 

I can't imagine HFL2 would happen unless enforced upon HFL.

Forgive my weegie ignorance, but if the HFL was to invite applications for a regionalised 2018/19 HFL2 championship (with transitional rules re floodlights etc), would most NCL clubs apply?

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I can't imagine HFL2 would happen unless enforced upon HFL.
Forgive my weegie ignorance, but if the HFL was to invite applications for a regionalised 2018/19 HFL2 championship (with transitional rules re floodlights etc), would most NCL clubs apply?

Not a chance. The majority are amateur clubs in all but name, playing on council parks, with little in the way of facilities. A couple may have had ideas of stepping up, but even Halkirk have gone pretty quiet on that front. I'm not sure how many would manage a 30-odd game season either.

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On ‎11‎/‎11‎/‎2017 at 23:13, parsforlife said:

I've always wondered how entitled HL are to ask for additional requirements. Surely we should have a consistent requirements for every level of the pyramid regardless of geographical location.

It was a requirement before the pyramid came along. Going by their rulebook it's the only membership requirement they have beyond being full SFA members (i.e. holding a licence).

They used to require covered seats but there is no mention of this in their rulebook.
 

On ‎14‎/‎11‎/‎2017 at 08:10, Marr1 said:

I think that's down to the extra games clubs in HL play - 34 instead of 30 - clubs need floodlights in the HL with the extra midweek games, not the case with the LL.

This, plus the fact they've no 3G pitches, plus the fact they play all cup competitions during the season (LL plays League Cup off the end), makes it sensible.

Successful HL club reaching all finals would play:
* 34 league games
* 1+ Scottish Cup
* 3-4 Aberdeenshire/North of Scotland cup
* 3-4 Aberdeenshire Shield
* 4-5 Highland League Cup
= 45 to 48


where equivalent LL club would play:
* 30 league games
* 1+ Scottish Cup
* 4-5 South Challenge Cup
* 4-5 EOS Qualifying/Southern Counties cup
= 39 to 41
(then South Challenge Cup Final and Lowland League Cup, if not in playoff, in later April & May)


and chances are LL club would suffer fewer postponements too.

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On 20/11/2017 at 00:26, Cyclizine said:


Not a chance. The majority are amateur clubs in all but name, playing on council parks, with little in the way of facilities. A couple may have had ideas of stepping up, but even Halkirk have gone pretty quiet on that front. I'm not sure how many would manage a 30-odd game season either.

The NCL has a similar (or worse) problem to clubs in the South of Scotland League, namely remoteness and the costs of travelling, which means that promotion within the pyramid would be financially crippling, and unattractive to part time and amateur players. Golspie (an SFA Member Club) doesn't want promotion, and Halkirk's interest in becoming licensed has unsurprisingly faded. Thurso has the population (comparable with Caithness neighbours Wick, and larger than many current HFL clubs,) which gives them a good level of support,  but does not own its ground, and  had not secured a long term lease sufficient to justify expenditure on ground improvements necessary for an SFA licence.

I am a big supporter of the pyramid, but consider that clubs at the tier below the HFL and SLL should not be FORCED to take promotion when they are champions of their 'feeder' leagues.  The SoSL has had the farcical situation where 2014/15 champions St Cuthbert Wanderers didn't carrying out minor ground improvements allegedly to delay being licenced, and in 2015/16 Wigtown & Bladnoch mysteriously  lost form  very late in the season (Edusport won the SoSL title, and gained promotion instead). Avoidance of promotion ?

They SFA should recognise both the NCL and the North Region Super League as "feeders" to the HFL,  but only by promoting clubs with an SFA licence who  also confirm that they will voluntarily accept promotion, if champions.  In the unlikely event that both the North Junior & NCL champions want promotion, a simple play-off would decide who gains promotion to the HFL.  The glaring absence of a north of Scotland pyramid would therefore be solved without enforced promotion, and also give encouragement to any ambitious clubs who may have promotion aspirations in the future, but are currently excluded by the HFL's "closed shop".

The NCL's senior status would also be officially recognised, making the northern Highlands and Islands an inclusive part of Scottish non-league football.

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The NCL has a similar (or worse) problem to clubs in the South of Scotland League, namely remoteness and the costs of travelling, which means that promotion within the pyramid would be financially crippling, and unattractive to part time and amateur players. Golspie (an SFA Member Club) doesn't want promotion, and Halkirk's interest in becoming licensed has unsurprisingly faded. Thurso has the population (comparable with Caithness neighbours Wick, and larger than many current HFL clubs,) which gives them a good level of support,  but does not own its ground, and  had not secured a long term lease sufficient to justify expenditure on ground improvements necessary for an SFA licence.
I am a big supporter of the pyramid, but consider that clubs at the tier below the HFL and SLL should not be FORCED to take promotion when they are champions of their 'feeder' leagues.  The SoSL has had the farcical situation where 2014/15 champions St Cuthbert Wanderers didn't carrying out minor ground improvements allegedly to delay being licenced, and in 2015/16 Wigtown & Bladnoch mysteriously  lost form  very late in the season (Edusport won the SoSL title, and gained promotion instead). Avoidance of promotion ?
They SFA should recognise both the NCL and the North Region Super League as "feeders" to the HFL,  but only by promoting clubs with an SFA licence who  also confirm that they will voluntarily accept promotion, if champions.  In the unlikely event that both the North Junior & NCL champions want promotion, a simple play-off would decide who gains promotion to the HFL.  The glaring absence of a north of Scotland pyramid would therefore be solved without enforced promotion, and also give encouragement to any ambitious clubs who may have promotion aspirations in the future, but are currently excluded by the HFL's "closed shop".
The NCL's senior status would also be officially recognised, making the northern Highlands and Islands an inclusive part of Scottish non-league football.

Caithness can't really support more than one team at HFL level. Most HFL players are Aberdeen or Inverness based which is why the Shire teams are generally stronger. Brora just have cash to entice players... Wick have mostly local players out of necessity, but as I said, Caithness is a small catchment area.

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This may be more for the infowire section, but I don't want to start a new thread in there if it's an easy answer.

With the NCL being an SFA affiliated league rather than SAFA, I assume the clubs aren't eligible to enter the Amateur Cup? But unless they're licensed, there's also no route into the Scottish Cup. And with the NCL not being part of the pyramid, does that mean that any of the clubs who could potentially want to become licensed would be precluded from doing so?

It just seems a bit odd to me that teams from an SFA affiliated league, with the exception of Golspie, seem to be isolated from any type of national cup participation

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38 minutes ago, Craig the Hunter said:

This may be more for the infowire section, but I don't want to start a new thread in there if it's an easy answer.

With the NCL being an SFA affiliated league rather than SAFA, I assume the clubs aren't eligible to enter the Amateur Cup? But unless they're licensed, there's also no route into the Scottish Cup. And with the NCL not being part of the pyramid, does that mean that any of the clubs who could potentially want to become licensed would be precluded from doing so?

It just seems a bit odd to me that teams from an SFA affiliated league, with the exception of Golspie, seem to be isolated from any type of national cup participation

I've wondered this in the past, but never thought to ask the question. I don't have a definitive answer but I had a look around to have a guess.

Queen's Park were barred in 2010 for not playing in an Amateur League. I think the SFA registration of NCL clubs would therefore preclude them from entry. The League's standing as a Reserve League for so long, as well as the small scale and geography is probably why it doesn't have stronger links to any National Cup competition.

Below's the article i found about Queen's Park being barred.

https://spfl.co.uk/news/article/queens-park-finally-barred-from-amateur-cup/

 

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19 minutes ago, FairWeatherFan said:

I've wondered this in the past, but never thought to ask the question. I don't have a definitive answer but I had a look around to have a guess.

Queen's Park were barred in 2010 for not playing in an Amateur League. I think the SFA registration of NCL clubs would therefore preclude them from entry. The League's standing as a Reserve League for so long, as well as the small scale and geography is probably why it doesn't have stronger links to any National Cup competition.

Below's the article i found about Queen's Park being barred.

https://spfl.co.uk/news/article/queens-park-finally-barred-from-amateur-cup/

 

Yeah, I thought that the SFA affiliation would stop them entering. It's such a strange, anomalistic league in so many respects.

I have wondered if the SFA might eventually offer a Scottish Cup prelim entry to the winner, similar to the places granted to the Junior champions and Amateur Cup winners, as it seems like the only non welfare league that has no access (again barring Golspie)

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13 minutes ago, Craig the Hunter said:

Yeah, I thought that the SFA affiliation would stop them entering. It's such a strange, anomalistic league in so many respects.

I have wondered if the SFA might eventually offer a Scottish Cup prelim entry to the winner, similar to the places granted to the Junior champions and Amateur Cup winners, as it seems like the only non welfare league that has no access (again barring Golspie)

I'd like to see that as well. If the NCL hadn't fallen to just 6 clubs when a lot of the Scottish Cup restructuring took place they might of got a spot for their champions like the SoSFL & EoSFL did. If the league can get to double digits and stay there for a couple of years it'd probably happen.

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North Caledonian has nothing to do with the SAFA although a lot of people seem to assume it's an amateur league (maybe as they presume it's neither senior or junior).

There was never any suggestion of it receiving a Scottish Cup place in 2007 like HL, EOSL and SOSL and the Juniors. Similarly they don't have a place in the new Cup-Winners' Shield. Their ref appointments were centralised this year - but on another thread it's suggested some non-category refs are still used.

They don't have any voting rights or representation on SFA bodies, either. (This also applies to their mirror FA - the North Caledonian FA - and the Wigtownshire & District FA which for some reason is separate from the Southern Counties FA and runs a few SOS cups). Their senior status is really just a historical quirk courtesy their evolving from being the Highland 2nd XI League, which needed compatible player registrations.

They're probably happy just to keep watered-down senior status - for prestige reasons etc.


EDIT: It is an interesting point about what would happen if someone like Halkirk or Orkney further developed their ground and applied for a licence... If the North Caley voted to join the pyramid, but no actual promotion/relegation was instituted due to HL not removing their "glass floor" (postulating here), perhaps that'd be OK.

EDIT AGAIN: One of the quirks of these anomalous SFA member clubs was that until a few years ago the 3 sides in question were playing in the North Caledonian League (Golspie), the Kingdom Caledonian League (Burntisland) and the Caledonian AFL (Glasgow Uni) despite playing north of Inverness, in Fife and Strathclyde respectively.

Edited by HibeeJibee

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9 hours ago, Craig the Hunter said:

it seems like the only non welfare league that has no access (again barring Golspie)

That's right - North Caledonian and Welfare FA clubs have no route into Scottish Cup.

Welfare FA is really just a remnant these days. They were down to under 250 clubs 10yrs ago... 150 clubs 5yrs ago... and may be under 100 now. They've no 'normal' Saturday leagues left and Welfare Cup only attracts ~30 entrants.

To that pair you could add a few 'pirate' leagues not affiliated with any governing body: e.g. Sunday Central, Arran League, Islay League, Fire Brigade and Prison football (Police are affiliated to SAFA), Moray League which IIRC quit Welfare FA, and the East of Scotland Churches League... this used to be affiliated to SAFA, like the Strathclyde Churches League, but there seemed to be some fall-out a few years ago with a rival Edinburgh Churches League appearing - neither features in current SAFA's member list.

Edited by HibeeJibee

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HJ, I had a feeling you'd be the one with the answers. So Yeah, it's just a weird anomaly. Will be interesting if any of the club's ever feel like going for a licence.

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