Hearts make B team decision with Lowland League deadline looming as Rangers and Celtic issue becomes real

Hearts will formally declare their interest in entering a B team in the Scottish Lowland League in the next 72 hours, the Evening News can reveal.

Thursday, 28th April 2022, 3:57 pm
Updated Thursday, 28th April 2022, 9:07 pm

The resumption of reserve football in Scotland is unlikely for next season and the Edinburgh club are keen to start a second-string side in the pyramid’s fifth tier.

The deadline for “guest clubs” to indicate plans to join the 2022/23 Lowland League is 5pm this Sunday and Hearts plan to lodge the necessary paperwork before then.

However, once their application becomes official, the league will face a quandary over who to admit after letting Rangers B and Celtic B teams play as “guest clubs” this term.

A vote was passed by Lowland League sides earlier this month for the division to continue with two “guest clubs” for season 2022/23, with the expectation that those two would be Rangers and Celtic.

That would see the league continue with 18 teams, which is the maximum allowed in their constitution, but Hearts want one of the “guest” slots. They are prepared to pay the £40,000 entry fee – an increase from £25,000 last summer – and tick all the boxes in terms of facilities.

Their application would create a dilemma over which two teams would be allowed to join. Potentially, major restructuring would be required to allow three teams in but that depends on how many clubs apply.

Hearts were keen for the SPFL reserve league to restart in August following its Covid-enforced shutdown in 2020. Not every club is in favour of such a move, though. Those in charge at Riccarton consider the B team plan to be the next best thing.

Hearts are keen to join the Lowland League.

As with Rangers and Celtic, Hearts are desperate to bridge the gap from the under-18 league to first team. Starting a B team would help make the transition easier for young players to reach senior level and give them a higher platform on which to develop.

The Riccarton youngsters reached this season’s Scottish Youth Cup final on Wednesday night – losing 2-1 to Rangers Under-18s at Hampden Park – but first-team game time has been limited for academy kids.

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