West of Scotland Football League reject plans for changes next season
In the same week that proposals to form a new European Superleague took over the football headlines, we can reveal that plans for a shake-up of the existing West of Scotland League set-up have been unequivocally rejected.
In what many dissenters to the proposed £3 billion breakaway Euro League - whose applicants include English giants Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Manchester City, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur - will hope is a sign of things to come for those controversial plans, WoS League chiefs have binned restructuring their divisions.
The existing West of Scotland Premier League and three conferences have clubs across a wide geographical area, something which West outfit Ardrossan Winton Rovers wanted to change into a regionalised set-up for next season.
“Ardrossan put the proposal to the West of Scotland League last Monday to look at it and see if we would support it,” WoS League chairman Matt Bamford told the Carluke and Lanark Gazette.
"At the end of this season we were supposed to go into linear leagues for season 2021-22. But obviously with the issue with Covid and stuff and clubs opting out, that wasn’t going to be a possibility.
"So we went back to the SFA and said to them: ‘Look, we need to go into conferences again for season 2021-22.
"They said: ‘That’s fine. We’re happy for you to get on with the season as long as it goes back to where it should be’.
"So that most clubs who opted out would not be disadvantaged. They would come back in, either into a conference or a Premier Division, where they were before this current season started.
"We explained to Ardrossan secretary Bobby Macnamara that this couldn’t go forward because we had already made the agreement with the clubs and the SFA that we need to go back to where we should have been at the start of this season.”
Matt added: “To be honest Ardrossan’s proposal wasn’t very good. There were a lot of holes we picked in it with clubs travelling and things like this. The SFA told us we couldn’t regionalise the conferences so the proposal was dead in the water.”
Ardrossan’s plans would have seen Lanark United, Carluke Rovers, Lesmahagow Juniors and Forth Wanderers all in Conference C along with Kilsyth Rangers, Larkhall Thistle, Wishaw, Gartcairn, Newmains United, Royal Albert, Thorniewood United, Bellshill Athletic, Shots Bon Accord, East Kilbride Thistle and St Cadoc’s.
Conference A would have included Ardrossan, Irvine Victoria, Lugar Boswell Thistle, Annbank United, Craigmark, Maybole Juniors, Ardeer Thistle, Saltcoats Victoria, Girvan, Dalry Thistle, Whitletts Victoria, Arthurlie, Neilston, Johnstone Burgh, Kello Rovers and Muirkirk Juniors.
And Conference B would have had Yoker Athletic, Drumchapel United, Glasgow Perthshire, St Anthony’s, Vale of Clyde, Shettleston, Vale of Leven, Renfrew, Glasgow University, St Roch’s, Maryhill, Ashfield, Petershill, Cambuslang Rangers, Port Glasgow and Greenock Juniors.
When asked if the fact that these new leagues would have helped clubs in the respect that it would have saved them money by incurring less travelling costs for away games, Matt responded: “It was considered but the problem is that the conferences were initially set up on merit.
"So that they were balanced with clubs from the old Junior Championship, First and Second Division so that there was a balance in there.
"The way their proposal had come, there was one of the conferences had six former Championship clubs in it.
"So you’d end up with a club potentially going where they should be, in the new First Division, ending up in the Third Division just because of geography.
"We thought: ‘That’s just not the way the West of Scotland set up’.
"We are set up on merit and that’s the way we want to go, is on merit.”