Rangers and Celtic ‘B’ Teams Admitted to Lowland League

Following a General Meeting of the Lowland League last night (Monday 11 May 2021), the league has voted to admit Rangers and Celtic ‘B’ teams into the league for one season only.

Under the proposals, the league will temporarily be increased from 16 to 18 for one season only. During that season, Rangers and Celtic will enter ‘B’ teams in the league, consisting of professional players at aged 20 and under. This will be for one year only and the ‘B’ teams will not be involved in promotion or relegation.

The club can confirm they voted in favour of the proposal.

Treasurer John Anderson said: “This is a exciting and innovative project which the club is delighted to be part of. From the club’s point of view, this provides commercial and financial benefit. For supporters, we will have two very special home games next season when Rangers and Celtic will be bringing Scotland’s most promising young talent to Victoria Park. We hope local supporters of both Ranges and Celtic, and beyond, take advantage of the opportunity to come to Victoria Park to witness.

Structural reform of Scottish football has been talked about for years, and it was great to be able to support this small development, just as we did when we joined the Lowland League at its formation in 2013.

There is no change to the pyramid system. There is no chance to promotion and relegation to and from the Tier 6 leagues. This is a one season project. Some have said “why not promote two clubs from the East and West leagues”. That was not on table. The number of teams in the league is restricted by the SFA, who have given permission to a temporary increase of two teams for one season only for this project. Increasing the league number was not otherwise on the table. I think that has not been properly understood by those who have criticised the project.”

The Lowland league campaign begins on Saturday 17 July 2021. Fixtures are expected be issued by the league in late June.

League ends; relegation uncertain; Vale left in limbo

At the beginning of the season, the clubs and league agreed a process for ending the season if it could not be completed. If 50% of games were completed, it would end on a Points Per Game basis. If less than 50% of games were completed, it would be null and void. This policy was reaffirmed in January 2021.

Having been told by the Scottish Government that completing the season without weekly PCR testing would not be permitted, the season is over. No team in the league has completed 50% of games, and in the Vale’s case, we are 4 games short of the 50% mark. A policy for this situation was agreed at the start of the season, and reaffirmed in January 2021. Under the agreed rules, the season should have been null and void.

The league Board have now decided, after seeking non binding comments from clubs, to abandon the agreed rules and declare the season on a Points Per Game basis.

The position on relegation is now unclear and based on a number of factors with unknown outcomes: how many teams will be in the league next season? Will it go back to 16, stay at 17, or another number? Will other pyramid clubs declare a champion? Will a club be promoted from the Lowland League? If a club is relegated from SPFL league 2, which league will they go into? All these questions remain unanswered, and the club is now left in no limbo.

Having spent the last year promoting sporting integrity and playing by the rules, it is disappointing to see the Lowland League breaking their agreed process.

Manager Chris Anderson said: “The past year has been a stressful one for everyone with normality coming to a halt in all our lives. The one constant has been the Scottish football infighting and baffling decisions. One minute we were allowed to play, the next we weren’t.

Let’s be clear. I want to stress that we have not preformed as well as we would have liked this year. No excuses. We have been far from the level required after 12 games but with 20 games remaining and still not played everyone around us who knows what would have happened.

That aside – all we’ve listened to over the past year was the SPFL closing the door to pyramids and sporting integrity going down the pan. Well it’s well and truly flushed now.

For this exact scenario we implemented a rule of reaching 50% games for the season to be called. Rules are there to safeguard competition. That trust is now broken.

In a day or two people will forget and move on. Whatever our fate, we will regroup and look forward to rebuilding for next season, whatever league we are in.”

Chris Anderson to lead the Vale next season

Following a Board meeting over the weekend to plan for next season, we can confirm that Manager Chris Anderson and Assistant Manager John Brogan will once again lead the Vale next season. 

Chairman Stuart Robertson said: ” There is a lot of uncertainty in football at the moment, including how we are going to complete the current season and where we as a club will be in league terms for next season. We all felt it was important to have clarity going forward, to confirm the management team for next season and allow them to start planning. There was no question of not confirming Chris as the manager for next season, no matter what happens between now and the end of this season.”

Manager Chris Anderson said: “This has been challenging season thus far, but everyone is determined to have a better second half of the season. We are all looking forward to restarting the league campaign, finish the season on a strong footing, and start to plan for next season.”

Scottish FA Suspend Football

The Scottish FA have today (11 January 2021) suspended football below SPFL Championship level for three weeks until 31 January 2021. This includes matches and training. Football is due to restart on 1 February 2021 but this is subject to review.

Whilst naturally everyone is frustrated, we understand the rationale behind this given the current circumstances. We hope the season will restart in February 2021 and we look forward to that.

Manager’s Thoughts: Keep Faith

During my 5 years as manager in the lowland league we have been tipped every year to go down. Every year people have a go at the club as being too small for this league. Every year they say the players aren’t good enough, the facilities aren’t good enough, and ultimately the manager is responsible.

I’m sorry to disappoint the armchair fans that have never kicked a ball in their life or the powers that be that put every obstacle in our way possible. We are not giving up without a fight.

We have a young side that hangs in the balance of confidence. I brought them in because they have talent and one win can turn our season around.

We have a few who know what it takes to avoid the drop but some who need to learn quickly.

Many seasons ago I won this league and have loved every minute of being involved in it. It’s not formations or tactics that will keep us up .. it’s heart and desire. Those things will never change in football.

We have games we can win coming up and we are going to give 100% for sure.

Keep the faith.