CLUB officials have moved to play down any concerns that the East of Scotland League will suffer as a result of the new Lowland League.
The cream of the East Seniors set-up, such as Spartans, Preston Athletic and Whitehill Welfare look set to enter the new league, which was voted through this week as Scottish football smooths the way for the integration of a pyramid system, which was also given the go-ahead this week.
The latest developments have been heralded as a bright new dawn for ambitious non-league clubs, but what will become of those left behind in the East Seniors?
Early indications are that those clubs not currently deemed strong enough for the Lowland League will be inspired by fresh opportunities. The seasoned title winners such as Whitehill Welfare and Spartans are set to be removed from the equation, creating openings for new challengers, while every club in the Seniors knows that, even if they are not currently equipped for promotion, the opportunity is there to progress up the ladder in the future.
Craigroyston are one club ready to embrace the changing face of the East of Scotland set-up. “I wish any teams that go into the Lowland League all the best,” said club chairman Gordon Bruce. “It’s something I’d like us to be involved in as well, but we’re realistic. It’s not an option for us at the moment but it’s something we can work towards.
“We’re actually in talks with the council about doing up St Mark’s Park so we’re quite hopeful we can take that forward.
“Whether it takes us towards licensing is another story, but there’s certainly a will on our part to make it happen. It’s a real goal for us.” In the short run, Bruce has no fears about the quality of the East Senior dwindling. “There will still be a lot of strong clubs left in the East of Scotland League. I don’t know yet if it will be one league or two, but whatever happens and whoever is in it, we will be trying to be one of the best teams in the league.
“The likes of Spartans and Whitehill have dominated the league for years, so this gives clubs like ourselves a chance to step into the breach.”
The addition of new teams into the league will also give it an injection of freshness, with Hibs Reserves already an eye-catching newcomer. There are others waiting in the wings to replace those who lurch into the Lowland League.
“Hibs coming into the league in itself is a boost for the league,” said Bruce. “It’s always been a good-quality league, so there will always be teams that want to join it.
“I’m sure the committee and the East of Scotland football league association will make the most of the situation.”