Rangers B may not be taking part in the Lowland League next season after all – with reports claiming that Rangers, Celtic and Hearts have issued an ultimatum to the fifth-tier clubs.
With Lowland League sides voting overwhelmingly to reject plans to expand to 19 clubs for next season after Hearts applied to join the Old Firm Colts – who had already been given backing to return next season – the trio have now reportedly insisted that it is all or nothing.
According to the Daily Mail, Rangers and Celtic have made it clear that they are only willing to continue to compete in the Lowland League if Hearts B are also admitted for next season.
Having paid £25,000 each last season to field a B team, that was set to increase to £40,000 as Lowland League sides now face losing out on a substantial windfall.
As things stand, the Lowland League will kick off next season with 16 teams, down from the 18 that took part this season.
Rangers’ Colts push needs to see the SPFL start to engage with Gers
The Gers’ push to have Colt teams as part of the league has gone on for years now and the SPFL need to do more to engage with interested clubs.
Rangers, Celtic, Hearts and a number of others have shown a desire to field a B team in the senior game and there were clear benefits – on both sides – last season.
With the Lowland League ‘pilot’ almost certain to be brought to an end next week, barring a last-minute u-turn, the clubs and leagues need to come together and find a solution.
Having no reserve league in the SPFL next season could mean that the best young players in the country are left without any sort of organised football as they try to take the step up to first-team level.
The likes of Alex Lowry, Leon King and Charlie McCann have all featured prominently for Rangers’ B team this season and the benefits to their development has been clear to see.
Failure to find some sort of solution would be disastrous for Scottish football’s best young talents and could lead to an exodus of some of the best young players in the country.