Rangers look set to be left looking for alternative plans for the club’s B team next season amid reports they, alongside Celtic, will be kicked out of the fifth tier.
After apparently giving Lowland League clubs an all-or-nothing ultimatum after they snubbed an application from Hearts to join the Old Firm Colts as a ‘guest club’, the fifth tier sides look set to choose ‘nothing’.
Brendan Parkinson, treasurer of Bonnyrigg Rose Athletic, has been a resolute opponent of the Colts and admits he expects the Lowland League to revert back to sixteen teams next season.
“I was very much against bringing Celtic and Rangers in from the start,” he said [Scotsman]. “When they were admitted, we took the decision to make our games against them free on our season tickets. We didn’t want to be accused of trying to make any money out of them.
“When we played Celtic at home on the opening day of the season, we were restricted to a crowd of 250 at the time because of Covid anyway so we actually lost money in the sense that we had 300 season ticket holders.
“When we played Rangers at home later in the season, we did have a much bigger crowd than normal (942). There was clearly a novelty value in the fixtures for some fans. Some clubs in the league may have made money out of it.
“When we played Rangers and Celtic, they both had full-strength squads. At other times, they played fixtures in the league with even younger players because of international call-ups.
“So even though they were not eligible for promotion if either of them had won the league, it’s wrong to say they didn’t have an impact on the outcome of the table because they were taking points off other teams.
“They absolutely did have an impact on league positions. We were glad to finish first because it negated any potential legal challenge about who were the champions.
“I haven’t spoken to anyone in the league about this but I have a strong sense that they will revert back to 16 teams for next season with no B teams.”
Refusing Rangers Colts a Lowland League place a step backwards for Scottish youth development
While the Lowland League clubs are well within their rights to opt against allowing Colts to take their place in the fifth tier next season, it feels like a big step backwards for youth development in Scotland.
Allowing teams – and not just Rangers and Celtic – to field B teams in competitive fixtures can really help them kick on and be in a position to challenge for first-team football.
With no reserve league currently in place, the Ibrox youngsters are currently in limbo and hopefully there can be a resolution found soon that suits everyone.