Thomas Brown, chairperson of the Lowland League, has discussed at length the decision to extend the Colts programme that sees Rangers and Celtic field a B team in the fifth tier.
The Old Firm have been taking part in the Lowland League this season, with David McCallum’s side looking to secure second place behind runaway champions Bonnyrigg Rose Athletic.
A vote earlier this week saw clubs vote “comfortably” in favour of allowing the Colts to retain their place in the league – despite some vocal opposition on social media.
“It was made clear to the Lowland League board at the start of March that the guest club wished to stay within the league and compete for another season, ” Brown said [Official Catchup].
“The board discussed it at our board meeting in March and two weeks after that we had an alread planned general meeting of the clubs so we asked the guest clubs to do their presentation with a view to taking another vote on it. The vote took place on Monday and the result was 11-4 in favour.
“With any pilot, it doesn’t have to be continued. The request came in and the board facilitated an option for clubs to discuss it and take a vote on it.
“Clubs have obviously voted and have seen the guest clubs’ presentation and were given the opportunity to ask all the questions that they wanted to ask, make all the points both positive and negative and were then given two weeks to consider it as clubs with their own board. I can’t be specific why clubs voted to continue but I think most clubs would see there have been a benefit financially to them and there’s early evidence that it has been beneficial to the Colts players that have taken part in the season so far.
“That was all evidenced as part of the presentation so I can only imagine given allthe positive feedback that the clubs voted for it.
Brown rejected suggestions that the financial aspect of the Colts pilot is what drove the decision to extend the initial one-year program into a second season.
With Rangers and Celtic paying £25,000 each to join the league, a further £85,000 was generated for the Lowland League through gate receipts and sponsorship, highlighting why the financial aspect is clearly enticing to clubs.
Brown also told how part of the presentation the Old Firm clubs gave had members of the Scottish coaching team going to bat for the Colts and arguing for them to continue, saying: “No, I don’t think so . People who were at the meeting were open-minded to what was said. Part of the presentation was inputs from a few people aren’t involved with either of the guest clubs who expressed why it was beneficial for Scottish football – including coaches who take teams within the Scottish set-up.
“That combined with the financial side of it, this season our analysis indicates over £135,000 has come into the league or member clubs, made up of entry fees from the guest clubs, sponsorship arrangements and increased gate money when the guest clubs visit.”