Edinburgh City's Danny Handling would rather earn promotion ‘proper way’ than via league reconstruction

Former Hibs midfielder targets League Two title push next season
Edinburgh City midfielder Danny Handling scores against Annan Athletic on February 2, 2020. Pic: Lisa FergusonEdinburgh City midfielder Danny Handling scores against Annan Athletic on February 2, 2020. Pic: Lisa Ferguson
Edinburgh City midfielder Danny Handling scores against Annan Athletic on February 2, 2020. Pic: Lisa Ferguson

Edinburgh City playmaker Danny Handling has admitted he would prefer to remain in League Two next season rather than be handed promotion via league reconstruction.

The Ainslie Park side were second in the table, 13 points behind leaders Cove Rangers and 12 points clear of third-placed Elgin City, when the campaign was cut short by coronavirus in March.

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The subsequent vote to end the season saw Cove promoted as champions - deservedly so according to Handling - but league reconstruction could yet see Edinburgh join them in League One if the latest 14-10-10-10 proposal receives enough backing from SPFL clubs.

However, the 26-year-old former Hibs midfielder, who turned down other offers to sign a new two-year contract with City this week, would rather earn promotion on the pitch.

"It doesn't really bother me what they do but I've always said that, ideally, we'd like to do things the proper way," Handling said.

"I wouldn't like to be handed promotion or anything like that. I'd rather go out and win it on the pitch and deservedly get the points through hard work and actually playing.

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"If you're handed promotion because you finished second without playing play-offs, then you've been promoted without playing the games.

"We did well to get to second place, but that only gets you the play-offs in League Two, it doesn't guarantee you promotion.

"I'd rather it stayed how it was and got back to the way it is just now. There's a lot of people trying to do things to suit themselves, but I'd rather keep it the same.

"I know it's not going to be the same because of finances and the situation every team is in, but for me personally, I'd like the leagues to stay the same. But everyone has got different opinions, so we'll see what happens."

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Handling is a key player at Ainslie Park, having scored 14 goals from midfield in 33 appearances last season, and he believes the squad is good enough to win the title next season - if the lower leagues are able to return.

"That's definitely the aim. Everyone at the club would say that and agree. If we don't aspire to do that then it's a fail for us," he stressed.

"We're a good enough side and we've got a great set up so we should be challenging for the title.

"It's not going to be easy though because there's teams in the league that can compete as well. Queen's Park are starting to show, they beat us twice last year, so credit to them they are putting a team together to get out this league.

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"But we have to consider ourselves among the title race with the squad we have. If we look for anything less than that then we're not looking for realistic aims."

Handling was one of three first team stars to commit their future to Edinburgh this week along with goalkeeper Calum Antell and the man who pipped him to the club's Player of the Year award, midfielder Liam Henderson.

"I don't want to comment too much on that ... I think he got everyone in Portobello, Port Seton and Musselburgh voting for him!" Handling quipped. "But to

be fair to him he had a great season and he deserves the success he gets.

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"He made himself a mainstay in the team, he works hard and he's one of the best trainers in the squad.

"I know he was in a similar position to me and had offers from other teams, but he recognises the club and how good it is, and the squad we have.

"We've signed three players back already - myself, Hendo and Antell - so that's a statement, and we've got players signed already that are of good quality.

“We definitely have the squad to go and compete, it's whether we can produce on the park, and if they can get a few more bodies in."