Cumbernauld United and Kilsyth Rangers face different challenges in new West of Scotland League

Cumbernauld United and Kilsyth Rangers will be in different divisions next seasonCumbernauld United and Kilsyth Rangers will be in different divisions next season
Cumbernauld United and Kilsyth Rangers will be in different divisions next season
Cumbernauld United have been given a place in the Scottish senior football pyramid’s new sixth-tier West of Scotland Premier League.

United will be part of a 20-club division which, along with a similar set-up already operating in the East of Scotland, will feed into the Lowland League.

The set-up has angered many of the former SJFA West Region junior clubs who believed all 67 of the new league’s clubs would be placed into conferences with an equal opportunity to win a place in the Premier League for the following season.

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But United chairman George Watson believes a place in the elite flight is no more than they deserve after the coronavirus shutdown cut short their promotion bid.

After rejecting the conference proposal last week, it looked as if United would miss out by the SFA only agreeing to a 17-team division made up of last season’s Premiership plus South of Scotland League side Bonnyton Thistle.

But a counter-proposal to add the top three sides in the Championship when the season came to halt - Darvel, Cumbernauld and Blantyre Vics - was accepted, allowing United to take what they believe is their rightful place.

Mr Watson said: “We’re over the moon because as far as I was concerned we were getting denied a promotion opportunity and there was no guarantee that if we’d gone into a conference we would be one of the teams getting promoted.

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“We’re in it now and at the end of the day I think all we’ve got is what we deserve in the first place. I think that’s only fair.

“It’s taken us 10 years to get in the top league and now we’re there and can plan accordingly.”

The United supremo believes being in the top West league can help manager Kieran McAnespie attract new players.

And while delighted for his own club, he can see why so many others were angered by rejection of the ‘all-in’ conference proposal.

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He said: “All the clubs went over en masse and it was going to be conferences; that’s what we thought we had agreed.

“We were a bit disappointed because it means that if we got promoted it would count for nothing, other than you would get a higher seeding in the conference.

“But then we got the bombshell that they were was insisting on a tier six Premier Division which put a spanner in the works for a lot of the teams.

“To make it worse for us they had decided to go with the Premiership as it ended last season with Rob Roy, Rutherglen Glencairn and Troon avoiding relegation and Cumbernauld, Blantyre and Darvel wouldn’t be rewarded.”

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However after two Zoom meetings the clubs came up with a counter-proposal, insisting that the three top teams from the Championship should be promoted.

George said: “To be honest I think it’s thoroughly deserved. Now we just want to get back playing.”

However while the new set-up benefits United, Kilsyth Rangers are among the clubs who feel they are losing out.

Secretary William Dunbar admitted: “Like the rest of the teams we weren’t thrilled - it’s not what we were told.

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“But you’re between a rock and a hard place. There’s no recourse to take and we just need to suck it and see.

“Teams were supposed to split into conferences with the top league taking place the following season, but the SFA wouldn’t ratify that.

“They put the barriers on it because they couldn’t accept 67 teams and the judicial side that comes with that, the extra paperwork and so on.

“The Lowland League had offered to facilitate that this year but they were just putting obstacles up for whatever reason.

“Theoretically we’re among the top seeds that are left so it should give us a chance to progress.

“But exactly how this is all going to work is unclear.”

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