Preston Athletic will play in the East of Scotland League next season, the Scottish Football Lowland League have confirmed.
The Panners finished bottom of the Lowland League, having won just five games all season, and coupled with Edusport Academy being crowned South of Scotland League champions last weekend, the Pennypit outfit will now face the likes of Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale, Leith Athletic and Tynecastle next season.
However, club chairman John Snedden revealed the club knew their fate was sealed when they lost to Cumbernauld Colts in March that confirmed their last-place finish.
“As soon as we finished bottom we pretty much knew that was it, so we’ve been planning for how we get go about getting out of the East of Scotland for a few weeks now,” Snedden said.
“We made the management change parting company with Craig (Nisbet) and bringing in both Paul (Riley) and Jack (Lynch). We felt we had to give the new guys time to assess the squad and see who they want to keep.
“We were relegated five or six years ago to the old East of Scotland First Division and we bounced back to the Premier the following season. But, just because we have been playing in the Lowland League for the past four seasons doesn’t give us a divine right to earn promotion at the first time of asking. It’s certainly not going to be easy with the likes of Lothian, Leith and Tynecastle in there.”
Snedden admitted his management duo of Riley and Lynch will have a limited budget to operate with.
“It’s always been a bit of a struggle in recent years so we’re not going to have a massive amount of money to spend,” he said. “I would hope it is comparable with the top teams in the East of Scotland, though.”