Junior clubs have overwhelmingly backed a motion to take their game under the Scottish Football Association’s Pyramid system, with more than half backing proposals put forward by the Scottish Junior Football Association (SJFA).
Out of 158 member clubs who responded to a questionnaire sent out by the SJFA, 99 selected yes to the question “Should Junior Football join the current Pyramid system”, with just 55 opting for no - almost one third of members polled.
The Evening News understands the majority of East-based clubs backed the Junior game to come under the banner of the Scottish Football Association (SFA), with just last week current East Super League leaders Bonnyrigg Rose making public their exploration of plans to leave the Junior game. They could follow in the footsteps of Kelty Hearts, who made the transition to the East of Scotland league this season.
At present, the Pyramid system has six tiers, with the four Scottish Professional Football Leagues supplemented by the Lowland and Highland Leagues (fifth tier) and then the East of Scotland and South of Scotland Leagues (sixth tier).
SJFA secretary Tom Johnston has already written to the SFA to inform them of the results to the three-question survey, which also asked if clubs were currently in line with SFA licensing criteria.
“We realised that there were a growing swell of clubs who wanted to take part in the senior game, so the results have not come as a surprise to us,” said Johnston.
“We’ll take steps to arrange an EGM either sooner or prior to our AGM in June. I’ve already advised the SFA of the outcome of the questionnaire and we’ve been in discussions with Stewart Regan [former chief executive of the SFA] previously.
“It will democratically decided and whatever wins the day, will win the day and it will be up to those other clubs to decide what they want to do, and we’ll see where it takes us.”
Johnston admits he was surprised to hear of Bonnyrigg’s wish to leave the Junior game last week, with Premier League Dalkeith Thistle having previously expressed their wish to join the East of Scotland League.
He continued: “That was a surprise to us. I’m finding it hard to follow the logic of Bonnyrigg. They could have been playing in and winning the Scottish Junior Cup and participating in the Scottish senior cup. I haven’t heard for definite from Bonnyrigg that they have left, so until that happens I don’t know. The Lothian areas are predominantly Junior country so if they do decide to go, I’ll be surprised.
“We don’t want to lose any of our clubs whether they are big or small. We want to retain our numbers as best we can and give them a level of football that they’ll find hard to get elsewhere. I think the Junior game is quite unique.
“If they want to move we’ll wish them well, but we’d much rather they didn’t. There’s a lot of clubs that will never be able to finance club licensing, and that’s some of the bigger clubs. Finance is a major issue, but if that is the will of the clubs, we’ll go.”