‘The League Management Committee (LMC) of the SHFL met in Lossiemouth on Thursday 25th June and, by a majority, voted to develop detailed operational arrangements for a two-tier Highland League.

‘The meeting developed discussions arising from a draft starter paper that was circulated for clubs to comment on. These comments, along with any further views from clubs, will be used to develop detailed operational arrangements including constitutional arrangements and the structure of the playing season.

‘The LMC has been engaged with this issue for a number of months as it has come to terms with the set of challenges arising from the introduction of the pyramid system in Scottish Professional Football. Two of those challenges are the focus of this element of work, namely the size of the league and the number of scheduled midweek fixtures required in a given season.

‘The number of clubs in the Highland League might, by virtue of promotion/relegation to/from the SPFL, vary from season to season. It is therefore possible that this number would exceed the current total with implications for the number of fixtures in the League Championship competition.
Experience from the 2014-15 season has shown that an increased number of scheduled midweek fixtures has been significantly detrimental to club finances. Consequently, the option of two tiers was explored in view of that and it has been decided to create a set of planned arrangement which might be used if the size of the league were to increase.

‘The next stage of the process will be to develop that plan in detail so that it can be used in the event of the number of clubs rising above a critical threshold. Among the issues still to be finalised are:

  • the exact level of threshold
  • detailed arrangements for transition to two tiers, building on the agreed view that it should be on merit
  • a structure for the playing season, including arrangements for promotion/relegation
  • constitutional amendments enabling the changes should they be necessary.

‘Once this drafting process has been undertaken, Clubs will then seek to consult with key stakeholders, including sponsors and supporters.’