Brechin City: The New Third Lanark? | @AlexHTheMAX
Scottish football may be close to seeing the end of one of their best known league clubs since the demise of Third Lanark in 1967. A dodgy financial deal would see Thirds disappear almost overnight from the Scottish game 54 years ago, never to return to their former league status, but the formation of a pyramid system in Scotland is now seeing a former Scottish Championship club digging their heels in as they refuse to take their place in the Highland League following a play off final that saw Fife non-leaguers Kelty Hearts replace them in League 2.
Alex Horsburgh (@AlexHTheMAX) has been looking at the possible end of an East of Scotland side from the county of Angus, formed in 1906, who have been a permanent fixture on pools coupons for as long as we can remember.
Following their relegation from Scottish League 2 there is word coming out of Brechin City FC that they won't continue as a club and won't play in the Highland league with nearest away matches 50 miles north of the Angus town.
While many football supporters would hate to see any club go under there is also a growing number of the Scottish football public who are fast losing patience with the Glebe Park club, who lost their SPFL status via the Pyramid Play Off Final north of the border in May, losing 3-1 on aggregate to Lowland League side Kelty Hearts, a result that sent City out of the Scottish League for the first time since they regained full membership in the early 1950's following three decades in and out of the Scottish League scene.
It was agreed when the SPFL Pyramid system was formed in 2014 that clubs above an agreed geographical line, just north of the River Tay, would take their place in Highland League football if relegated from League 2 while those below the line would drop to the Scottish Lowland League.
Brechin City are north of that line but, despite having a current squad resident in the central region of Scotland, the rules agreed say they must play in the Highland League alongside clubs like Fraserburgh, Fort William and current Highland League champs, Brora Rangers, who played off v Kelty for the right to play SPFL team 42 and lost to the Fifers who then played Brechin.
East Stirlingshire (in Falkirk) and borderers Berwick Rangers have gone into the Lowland League after losing Play Off finals to Edinburgh City and Cove Rangers respectively since 2014 but Brechin have not gone as quietly to their designated place in the Highland League, following their defeat to Kelty Hearts, even offering Lowland League teams £1000 to vote them into the division, and allowing Lowland League club's away fans free entry to Glebe Park next season if included amongst the likes of East Kilbride, Cumbernauld Colts and Spartans of Edinburgh.
This has not gone down well with those interested in Scottish football outside the usual Old Firm soap opera, especially as Brechin also finished bottom of League 2 in 2020, and escaped a Play Off final due to the pandemic, which saw the SPFL finish early with Kelty being denied their chance to take on team 42 in the Scottish League.
As karma would have it , Kelty got their chance this season but with Brechin now finally out of the league they seem to be at the stage where they aren't just taking their ball home if not included in the Lowland League they are closing their park up altogether!
Would Brechin really pack up rather than put up with their agreed place in the Highland League?
The Angus club are certainly now playing a dangerous game of bluff and brinkmanship but the situation must be resolved soon if only for the integrity of the Scottish Pyramid which was designed to stop stagnation at the bottom end of the Scottish game.
@kayemphoto compared and contrasted Brechin City's Lowland League v Highland League travels recently so you be the judge whether or not City have a case for choosing which league they play in next season.
The graph includes the border designating whether a relegated SPFL club play in Lowland or Highland League based on geography.
Third Lanark were so skint by the time it was discovered one of their board members had ruined the club's financial position, they had no choice but to fold, but Brechin can still regroup and play the comeback game in the Highland League as a trusted non league team with a chance of regaining SPFL status via the Pyramid.
The clock is ticking regarding their choice.
By Alex Horsburgh, written for @TFHBs
©The Football History Boys, 2021
(All pictures borrowed and not owned by TFHB)