Bonnyrigg Rose boss reveals SFA licence fears and play-off format frustrations

Bonnyrigg Rose manager Robbie Horn says the play-off games have been arranged badly
Bonnyrigg Rose manager Robbie Horn says the play-off games have been arranged badly
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Bonnyrigg Rose boss Robbie Horn admits the club are still in the dark over whether they will be granted an SFA licence with the play-offs for entry into the Lowland League looming.

The New Dundas Park men can secure their spot in the East of Scotland League three-way play-off by taking at least a point at home to Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale tomorrow and clinching the Conference B title. However, they face a race against time to get their licence application accepted after the SFA changed the rules over minimum entry requirements this season with clubs now needing to have floodlights to obtain an entry level licence. Rose have various fundraising events planned over the coming weeks as they try to raise enough funds in order to install floodlights.

Horn said: “Like a number of other teams, we are still waiting to find out whether we are going to get a licence, which is huge. We are only a couple of weeks away from the cut-off date and we are still unsure about what is going to happen. Hopefully, it will be sorted out as soon as possible.

“There’s just been a lot of confusion. Don’t get me wrong, I understand it’s new to everybody, and it was very difficult to work out a way which was the best way to do it, but I don’t think some of it has been clear. Look at the Lowland League with the situation with Selkirk and the bottom team within the Lowland League – there needs to be more clarification.”

The format for the round-robin play-off to determine who faces the South of Scotland League winners for a spot in the Lowland League has been confirmed. Horn’s men would play the Conference A winners – Penicuik Athletic currently sit top – at home in a midweek, followed by an away trip to the Conference C champions – Broxburn Athletic top the table at the moment – in early May. Conference A and C victors will meet on Saturday, April 27.

Horn believes his side have been dealt the short straw with their draw, and reckons the play-off fixtures should be two-legged affairs.

“It’s a good achievement, don’t get me wrong, and being unbeaten up until this point it’s great as well, but for me the most important thing is that we get promoted into the Lowland.

“It really comes down to two games – I can’t quite understand why it is only two games – I think you should play home and away to decide it, but it is what it is and we’ll just have to get on with it. The league season is finishing early enough than it could have been done. We are in all the cup competitions as well so we’re going to have a lot of games to play but, at the same time, we would have prioritised the play-offs – they are the most important thing to us as a football club.

“They could have quite easily have had the games home and away and you would have got the games in no problem. And that would have been the fairest way to do it. At the end of the day, the best team would win that. It’s a wee bit disappointing after going through a whole league campaign, so to have it as a couple of games, I just don’t understand it. It is what it is, and we’ve just got to get on with it.”

Tomorrow’s opponents Lothian will be determined to spoil any pre-planned Rose title party as they still have aspirations of their own of a top-five finish to get their spot in the East of Scotland League top tier next season. Horn added: “I’ve got huge respect for what Lothian Thistle have done in the last couple of seasons. I would hope that after Saturday they can get themselves into a top-five slot because they’ve done so much for the league in the last couple of seasons. I’ve got a lot of respect for the manager, Raymie (Raymond Carr). They lost players but they seem to bring more players in to replace them, so I’ve got nothing but admiration for them.”