Bo'ness, Tynecastle and Lothian Thistle HV named champions as East of Scotland clubs vote to end season

East of Scotland League clubs have today voted to end the season with immediate effect.

By Craig Goldthorp
Friday, 24th April 2020, 3:10 pm
Updated Friday, 24th April 2020, 3:12 pm
Bo'ness United players can celebrate being named Premier Division champions following the East of Scotland League vote to finish the campaign.
Bo'ness United players can celebrate being named Premier Division champions following the East of Scotland League vote to finish the campaign.

An overwhelming majority of 37 clubs voted to finish the coronavirus-disrupted campaign on a points won per game basis, with only three voting against.

Those polled were also asked if Premier Division leaders Bo’ness United should be declared champions, if there should be no relegation and if conference winners Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale (Conference A) and Tynecastle (Conference B) would be promoted to temporarily create a bigger Premier Division next season, and these proposals were also carried, by 29 votes to 11.

Tynecastle's promotion represents managerial success for former Hearts forward Calum Elliot, who guided the club to an unbeaten league campaign in his first full season in charge.

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Former Hearts forward Calum Elliot has won promotion with Tynecastle in his first full season as manager.

Bo’ness, however, must wait to find out if they are promoted to the Lowland League.

East of Scotland League secretary David Baxter told the Evening News: “It’s not a circumstance anybody really wants to be in to win a title this way.

“But, as with other leagues in the pyramid, the East of Scotland League has taken a similar view that the only way of finalising it is based on this method.

“Bo’ness have been top of the Premier Division for quite a number of months and by every factor they’ve been leading it this season so it’s congratulations to them and the two conference winners Lothian Thistle and Tynecastle.

“By winning the league, first of all Bo’ness get the trophy. Secondly that gets them automatic entry into what’s currently known as the William Hill Scottish Cup for next season.

“But promotion is another matter and for that they need to have an SFA licence. The SFA say they will get that at the SFA AGM in early June.

“Technically, the SFA give Bo’ness their membership first and then the licensing committee give them the licence and the nod. And that tends to happen within a day of the AGM or at least on what happened last year, that’s the expectation.

“With Covid-19, no-one knows what’s going to happen with the start of next season anyway.”

If Bo’ness are promoted to the Scottish Lowland League - just one level below League 2 in the SPFL pyramid - they will be replaced by the conference runner-up club with the highest points per game record.

And, at the end of season 2020-21, each First Division conference winner will be promoted with as many clubs as necessary relegated to restore the Premier Division to 16 clubs.

Bo’ness chairman Iain Muirhead believes his club should be promoted.

“We definitely should be promoted, even if it means a bigger Lowland League,” he said. “It’s not the way that anybody at Bo’ness United would have wanted it.

“But promotion was our goal at the start of the season.

“We put a business plan in place in terms of the transfer and the player wages budgets to have a go at this year.

“So if we weren’t to get promotion and go back to the same level as last year it would be devastating for us.

“First and foremost we need to be licensed to get into the Lowland League. The SFA will be discussing it at their AGM in June and I’m 99.9 per cent sure the licence will be passed.”