Brora Rangers will be gunning for a place in the Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL) this weekend, despite their chairman being reluctant to actually win promotion.
The Highland League champions – whose website is powered by Club Website – visit Lowland League winners Edinburgh City this Saturday in the first leg of the inaugural Scottish pyramid play-Offs.
The winners of the two-legged tie will face League Two bottom club Montrose in May with a place in next season’s SPFL up for grabs, but chairman John Young is concerned about the effect that promotion might have on the club.
“My personal thoughts are I’d rather stay where we are but as a club we’ve got to move forward and we’ll be trying our best to get through into the SPFL,” said Young.
“We will endeavour to get there. Our players are professional. They always want to win every game. If we get through, we’ll get through and go forward.”
Rangers have dominated the Highland League for the last two seasons, losing only one game in the 2013/14 campaign before going undefeated this season to win the league by 14 points.
They have not lost a league game since December 2013 and have scored 134 league goals this season, conceding only 13, en route to winning 30 games and 94 out of a possible 102 points.
Brora is a small village with a population of less than 1,200 located on the Sutherland coast in the east of the Highlands.
Promotion to League Two could mean 600-mile round trips to the likes of Annan Athletic and Berwick Rangers – a prospect that worries their chairman.
“Our major concern is finance obviously. We’ve found it quite hard to sustain ourselves in the Highland League so obviously to travel more distance, get players off work etc, it’s going to cost the club more money in our view,” Young told STV.
“We’ve looked at all options and there’s no way we avoid it. We meet SPFL criteria for entry level so we can’t opt out. There could be quite severe penalties and we don’t want that.”
Despite his personal reluctance, Young says he has “no doubt” that manager Davie Kirkwood will be doing all he can to get his team promotoed.
“I’ve spoken to the manager and he appreciates where we’re coming from but he would like to go up and compete at the higher level,” said Young.
Kirkwood, a former Raith Rovers and Airdrieonians player, said: “This is a great draw for the club. We’ve both played each other and it will be a tight contest but knowing we are at home in the second game is a plus.”
The Scottish FA introduced the pyramid system this season to enable clubs from outside the senior league to realise their ambitions of entering the SPFL. The losing team in the final will move into the Lowland League or Highland League, depending on their location.
Scottish Pyramid Play-Offs
1st Leg: Edinburgh City v Brora Rangers – Sat 25 April, Meadowbank Stadium, Edinburgh
2nd Leg: Brora Rangers v Edinburgh City – Sat 2 May, Dudgeon Park, Brora