Fears for junior football in Scotland as plans to expand SPFL pyramid are unveiled

Prominent junior sides Auchinleck Talbot and Largs Thistle did battle in last year's Scottish Junior Cup final
Prominent junior sides Auchinleck Talbot and Largs Thistle did battle in last year's Scottish Junior Cup final
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Junior clubs could leave en masse as blueprints for West of Scotland League are revealed

Fears are growing for the future of junior football in Scotland amid plans to expand the Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL) pyramid this summer.

Blueprints for a West of Scotland League, running parallel to the East of Scotland and South of Scotland Leagues at the sixth level of Scottish football have been drawn up with prominent juniors teams such as Clydebank, Darvel and Kilwinning Rangers all expressing an interest in joining the new division, according to the Daily Record.

The news comes after a reported breakdown in negotiations within the Pyramid Working Group, which includes SFA supremo Ian Maxwell and the East of Scotland League, Lowland League and Scottish Junior Football Association (SJFA) chiefs.

Junior clubs voted in 2018 to join the SPFL pyramid en masse at tier six, although clubs including Auchinleck Talbot are still waiting to see if this happens. But with talks appearing to have hit the buffers, the new West of Scotland League proposal is gaining more support, threatening the future of the juniors.

There are fears a mass exodus similar to the one that saw prominent junior outfits such as Bonnyrigg Rose and Penicuik Athletic join the East of Scotland set-up two years ago could be in the offing.

A statement jointly released by the Lowland and East of Scotland Leagues said: “Numerous informal contacts have been made by clubs interested in the formation of a new West of Scotland League [WoSFL] at tier six in the pyramid.

“This shows clearly that there is an appetite for such an expansion of the pyramid.

“The Scottish Lowland Football League [SLFL], in conjunction with the East of Scotland Football League [EoSFL] can now lay out the high level plan to introduce the WoSFL by the start of season 2020/2021.”

Clubs are being asked to signal interest in the new format by March 31.

The statement adds: "The plan is to allow every club at all grades in the SLFL area the opportunity to progress through the SPFL pyramid.

“There will of course be issues such as geographical integrity to be considered with the introduction of a third tier-six league alongside the EoSFL and South of Scotland League.

“This and any other consequences will be addressed in a respectful, constructive and orderly way.”