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The Last Expansion...

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https://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/fp/sport/football/highland-league/1744053/we-cant-offer-spots-in-the-highland-league-says-secretary-rod-houston/

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Highland League secretary Rod Houston has told junior club Banks o’Dee the league does not have the power to offer any club a place in the Highland League.

Dee chairman Brian Winton told the Press and Journal his club is not expecting an invite to join should champions Cove beat Berwick Rangers in the play-off and reach League 2 but Houston believes Winton and the other junior clubs have already voted against becoming part of a pyramid structure below the Highland League.

Houston said: “There is the suggestion that the formation of a pyramid system in the North of Scotland is in the gift of the Highland League and it is blocked because the Highland League has not voted for it.

“The fact of the matter is that the pyramid system is an all-Scotland arrangement governed by the Scottish FA. There is a working group, on which the Highland League is represented, that meets regularly in Glasgow to monitor the working of the pyramid and consider possible routes for development.

“One such route was to consider the introduction of a pyramid tier below the Highland League in the North of Scotland with the North Region Junior Superleague housing what would have been called Tier 6.

“Part of that process was for representatives of the Highland League to meet with representatives of the North Region Junior FA to consider the possibility. That meeting took place in Huntly on November 18, last year and in the course of a cordial discussion, the NRJFA officials made it crystal clear that there was no appetite amongst junior clubs to become Tier 6 in the north, as indeed was their right so to do.”

Houston also clarified any club wishing to join the Highland League is welcome to make an application.

He said: “Given the speculation surrounding the possible promotion of Cove Rangers to the SPFL, it is worth noting that the Highland League’s officers have looked at possibilities if that occurs.

“However, not least out of respect for clubs involved in the play-offs, nothing will be made public at this stage with one exception.

“The normal process of seeking membership of the Highland League is to apply and the league would then determine the composition of its membership.”

EDIT: And I found the Article where Banks O'dee were talking about not expecting an invitation

https://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/fp/sport/football/1743679/banks-odee-not-looking-to-join-highland-league-says-president-brian-winton/

Quote

Banks o’ Dee are not making any preparations to join the Highland League next season, according to chairman Brian Winton.

The Aberdeen junior club has been touted as a possible replacement should Cove Rangers defeat Berwick Rangers in the SPFL pyramid play-off final.

But Winton says the Spain Park club is not expecting an invitation to join the Highland League should Cove earn promotion to Scottish League 2.

It has been another great season for the Aberdeen junior club, with Dee winning the Superleague title and the Aberdeenshire Cup.

But Winton said: “Irrespective of my views on this subject, the facts are that there is no pyramid into the Highland League at this moment in time.

“In financial and operational planning, making the step from junior football to the Highland League can’t be made at the end of a season if a team goes up or down.

“That can only happen if you start off with that objective at the beginning of the year.

“If Cove Rangers don’t go up this season then there’s no vacancy to fill so it would need the teams in the Highland League to vote to form a pyramid system before that can become an objective for Banks o’ Dee.

“You can’t make preparations overnight and financial and operational planning for the junior league and the Highland League are completely different. In addition, I have players signed on junior contracts so it doesn’t become a feasible option unless you know that there is a pyramid in place and you set up your whole operational background to do that. You can’t just wait until the end of May to see if there is a gap.

“No other league apart from the Highland League is part of a pyramid system without automatic promotion and relegation.”

Banks o’ Dee applied to join the Highland League a decade ago but the league opted to allow in Strathspey Thistle, Formartine United and Turriff United.

Winton added: “We also have to bear in mind that in season 2008-2009, before my time at the club, Banks o’ Dee put a considerable investment into the operational and financial planning to get into the Highland League and they were rejected by the members.

“So why would we go and put together a financial and business plan when there’s no clear pathway into that league? The Highland League are in the same position as they don’t have a clear pathway into the Scottish League until the bottom team in League 2 gets relegated.”

 

Edited by FairWeatherFan

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As a matter of interest, what crowds do Banks o Dee get?

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Is now the time for a breakaway league?

If the HL and NoS League have no interest in joining that’s fine, they can continue as they are but the HL’s place in the pyramid would be replaced by the new league. Licensed clubs would still get into Scottish Cup but HL and NoS would lose ANY CHANCE of entering into the pyramid system, all clubs would have to enter through the new league

Edited by Spyro

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17 minutes ago, Spyro said:

Is now the time for a breakaway league?

If the HL and NoS League have no interest in joining that’s fine, they can continue as they are but the HL’s place in the pyramid would be replaced by the new league. Licensed clubs would still get into Scottish Cup but HL and NoS would lose ANY CHANCE of entering into the pyramid system, all clubs would have to enter through the new league

The SFA couldn't get the 10 team Highland League off the ground, the preference for 16 teams in the Highland and now can't undo the LL Tier 6 play-off. They had a chance when they were creating the pyramid, it's a bit too late to do something like this.

Best hope right now is Cove get promoted. Then a number of clubs look to apply or declare an interest. The SFA could then facilitate something for below the Highland League or the proposed HL2 if they ever get more than 20 clubs.

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2 minutes ago, FairWeatherFan said:

The SFA couldn't get the 10 team Highland League off the ground, the preference for 16 teams in the Highland and now can't undo the LL Tier 6 play-off. They had a chance when they were creating the pyramid, it's a bit too late to do something like this.

Best hope right now is Cove get promoted. Then a number of clubs look to apply or declare an interest. The SFA could then facilitate something for below the Highland League or the proposed HL2 if they ever get more than 20 clubs.

That’s sensible with what we have, but half the HL and none of the NoS club want to be involved. This is why I think a breakaway league, then hope to f**k more than 10 teams apply!

Hopefully with the right structure, clubs will see that there’s nothing to be scared of. There could be a top league of 16, then a Highland, Grampian and Tay/Angus section... it’s just trying to get a decent number of teams involved. Allowing non-licensed clubs to play in the second tier would help greatly

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1 minute ago, Spyro said:

That’s sensible with what we have, but half the HL and none of the NoS club want to be involved. This is why I think a breakaway league, then hope to f**k more than 10 teams apply!

Hopefully with the right structure, clubs will see that there’s nothing to be scared of. There could be a top league of 16, then a Highland, Grampian and Tay/Angus section... it’s just trying to get a decent number of teams involved. Allowing non-licensed clubs to play in the second tier would help greatly

They were relatively split over the 2x 10 team league plan a few years ago. The Highland League certainly isn't a unanimous voting block. Still think it's going to require Cove Rangers going up  to get any traction on moves.

Part of the problem right now is that you need an SFA licence and floodlights to get into the Highland League. 10 years ago that wasn't something applying clubs had to contend with. It was actually said that what standards the League had were lowered to let Formartine, Strathspey and Turriff in. 

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Is now the time for a breakaway league?
If the HL and NoS League have no interest in joining that’s fine, they can continue as they are but the HL’s place in the pyramid would be replaced by the new league. Licensed clubs would still get into Scottish Cup but HL and NoS would lose ANY CHANCE of entering into the pyramid system, all clubs would have to enter through the new league


No ones interested.

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1 hour ago, Jimmy Shaker said:

 


No ones interested.

 

Got to love the forward-thinking Highlanders... :shutup

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Perhaps they're thinking of what's best for the clubs involved rather than what guys desperate to see a pyramid, whatever the implications and difficulties, think.

 

Most teams are from very small communities and some pyramid zealots forget this. Moving up might work for Cove as they have 150'000 on their doorstep; Halkirk don't. Forcing a set-up that doesn't take account of this just because it works in England or Germany verges on madness.

 

 

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Got to love the forward-thinking Highlanders... :shutup


In terms of making sure their clubs have the best chance of surviving some difficult times in the world of north football, yes, they are.

There’s no one interested in even joining the Highland League, either as it stands or in any other shape, never mind ten/twelve/sixteen teams needed to make up a new league. BOD were the big hope for the fanboys wanting a new set up but they don’t gots the grapes for it.

It’ll happens eventually but forcing it won’t do anything for anyone.

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The leagues been slowly dying since 1994, everyone knows it. I would LOVE the HL to become the force it once was, but after living in and around Inverness for 13 years and experiencing the local psychi, there’s not a hope until it is pushed.

Look at the way the new clubs are treated by the established teams, fair enough Cove’s ground situation wasn’t great but IT WAS NOT THEIR FAULT. You would never have thought with the hate and fear directed towards them.

”How dare they come into our league and show AMBITION!”

Edited by Spyro

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Inverness as a town has no real interest in football any more. No junior club, one senior, and one franchise out at the dump.

Cove’s ground issues were at least partly their own, in terms of running down their old one to the point it looked like something out of Pripyat, and not setting a proper timeline for their new one. Hell, if they’d even said they were sharing with Locos for the foreseeable future instead of sofa surfing round the north for three years that would have been almost acceptable.

The league can rise again but it won’t by letting in Halkirk and Burghead. It needs the 18 currently involved to sort their shit out first, and only then can we kick on with the NCL and juniors.

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51 minutes ago, Hampden Diehard said:

Perhaps they're thinking of what's best for the clubs involved rather than what guys desperate to see a pyramid, whatever the implications and difficulties, think.

 

Most teams are from very small communities and some pyramid zealots forget this. Moving up might work for Cove as they have 150'000 on their doorstep; Halkirk don't. Forcing a set-up that doesn't take account of this just because it works in England or Germany verges on madness.

 

 

One of the problems is the SFA insisting that promotion is mandatory, especially in the north going from a fairly local league to one that covers a huge area (or even the whole country) could be financially crippling for smaller clubs. If they get rid of the mandatory promotion it's actually pretty easy to get a pyramid in the north. Quite simply just tag the NRJFA & NCL (and possibly Tayside ERJFA) under the HFL. Make clubs indicate whether they want to get promoted. Then from each of these leagues the best eligible team in each league that wants can get promoted to the HFL as long as they finish at least 3rd (for example). A play-off can be used if there are more teams up for promotion than would be relegated to not have 3 automatic relegation spots from the HFL (1 is more than enough to start off with imo as even that 1 will not be used much).

In that way, there is a proper route up the pyramid on sporting merit for clubs in the north who want to and nothing will change for clubs that don't want to. Maybe no club will make use of the system for the next few years, but that's not a problem imo, at least the possibility is there. And by being in the pyramid, clubs can work towards licensing, which could be beneficial for some.

Mandatory promotion might work in the south where there are much more teams. But with Scotland's geography a "one size fits all" approach for the pyramid is simply not possible.

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Perhaps they're thinking of what's best for the clubs involved rather than what guys desperate to see a pyramid, whatever the implications and difficulties, think.
 
Most teams are from very small communities and some pyramid zealots forget this. Moving up might work for Cove as they have 150'000 on their doorstep; Halkirk don't. Forcing a set-up that doesn't take account of this just because it works in England or Germany verges on madness.
 
 
Because promotion and relegation to a higher level should be a basic building block of the game.

Every area of the country needs a solution that suits them, saying no/never shouldn't be an option. Fort William shouldnt be allowed to remain out of their depth in the HL forever and a day.

NCL clubs voted to get involved, as did NRJFA clubs. There is a will out there for it to happen, it just needs a proper plan that is acceptable to everyone. If that is different to the Lowland area then so be it.

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There is a will of sorts to change aspects of things, even if it’s only because we realise Fort, Cove, BOD and perhaps a few other clubs are in the wrong place. But there’s only a few. Participation in the Scottish Cup should have been an eye opener for junior side but only BOD have made anything of it. Culter did well in their time in the cup but didn’t kick on with a view to improving towards senior status, and Sunnybank, well.

Whatever we come up with will look different. f**k knows what, tho.

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The Fort William situation will only be sorted by moving the town 50 miles up the road!

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The Fort William situation will only be sorted by moving the town 50 miles up the road!


That would almost certainly be easier than anything else they come up with.

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2 hours ago, Marten said:

One of the problems is the SFA insisting that promotion is mandatory, especially in the north going from a fairly local league to one that covers a huge area (or even the whole country) could be financially crippling for smaller clubs. If they get rid of the mandatory promotion it's actually pretty easy to get a pyramid in the north. Quite simply just tag the NRJFA & NCL (and possibly Tayside ERJFA) under the HFL. Make clubs indicate whether they want to get promoted. Then from each of these leagues the best eligible team in each league that wants can get promoted to the HFL as long as they finish at least 3rd (for example). A play-off can be used if there are more teams up for promotion than would be relegated to not have 3 automatic relegation spots from the HFL (1 is more than enough to start off with imo as even that 1 will not be used much).

In that way, there is a proper route up the pyramid on sporting merit for clubs in the north who want to and nothing will change for clubs that don't want to. Maybe no club will make use of the system for the next few years, but that's not a problem imo, at least the possibility is there. And by being in the pyramid, clubs can work towards licensing, which could be beneficial for some.

Mandatory promotion might work in the south where there are much more teams. But with Scotland's geography a "one size fits all" approach for the pyramid is simply not possible.

People seem to forget that promotion and relegation is about the opportunity for clubs to progress if they wish to. That is why the door to promotion is there in the more distant parts i.e. Highland and South Scotland. If clubs from these areas don't want to take that opportunity then that is no problem at all for any other club e.g. those from the Central Belt areas as this gives them even more opportunity to make progress - so don't complain!

What's the problem with that? Nothing! Get on with it and just link the NCL, NRJFA and north of Tay Bridge ERJFA clubs to the Highland League but don't force them to take promotion.

Similarly , south of the Tay Bridge, let those clubs which do not wish to enter the Pyramid stay where they are e.g. in the Juniors. Create a WoS and merge those ERJFA Juniors which want the Pyramid into the existing EoS.

Also, where there is a single promotion place, allow clubs as far down as to, say, 3rd, 4th or 5th place to take it if the higher placed clubs don't want it. If they turn out to be too weak for the higher league then they will soon return, won't they?

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The first step towards a HL feeder would be to merge the NRJFA and the ERJFA clubs north of the Tay to create a strong league system outside the HFL in the north of the country that could challenge the HFL a bit. That’s a lot easier said than done, however. Too much politics.

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Rumour of ICT floating the idea of adding a colt team to the HL if Cove go up.

 

 

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