Lowland Football League

The Scottish Lowland Football League (SLFL) (commonly known as the Lowland League) is a football league operating in central and southern Scotland. 17 teams currently compete in the league with teams drawn from the Lowlands area of Scotland.

Lowland League
Lowland League Logo 2018.png
Founded2013
Country Scotland
Other club(s) from England (1 team)
ConfederationUEFA
Number of teams17
Level on pyramid5
Promotion toScottish League Two
Relegation toEast of Scotland Football League
South of Scotland Football League
West of Scotland Football League
Domestic cup(s)Scottish Cup
South Region Challenge Cup
Scottish Challenge Cup (top 4)
Scottish League Cup (champions)
League cup(s)Lowland League Cup
Current championsKelty Hearts (1st title)
(2019–20)
Most championshipsEdinburgh City
The Spartans
East Kilbride
(2 titles)
Websiteslfl.co.uk
2020–21 Lowland Football League

The Lowland League is the fifth tier of the Scottish football pyramid, on a par with the Highland League and above the three Lowlands-based regional leagues at tier six. As a creation of the Scottish Football Association, the Lowland League is a full member of the same organisation.

FormatEdit

Teams play each other twice in the league (home and away), receiving three points for a win and one point for a draw. No points are awarded for a loss. At the end of each season, the club with the most points is crowned Lowland League champions. If points are equal, goal difference, and then goals scored determines the champion. If this still does not result in a winner, the tied teams must take part in a championship play-off match at a neutral venue to determine the final placings.[1]

Promotion and relegationEdit

Since 2014–15, promotion to the Scottish Professional Football League is via an annual play-off, beginning with the Lowland League champions facing the champions of the Highland Football League over two legs (home and away).[2] There is no away goals rule so if scores are equal on aggregate after full-time in the second leg, the game will go to extra time, and then penalties if required. The winners will then face a play-off against the bottom club in League Two with the same rules applying.[3][4] If the League Two clubs loses the play-off final, they are relegated to the Lowland League if they are south of 56.4513N latitude (middle of the Tay Road Bridge).

Promotion to the Lowland League is via a three match round robin play-off between the winners of the East of Scotland Football League, South of Scotland Football League, and West of Scotland Football League, subject to their respective champions meeting league membership criteria. If two clubs meet the criteria they will face each other home and away, if only one club meets the criteria they will be promoted without a play-off, however if no club meets the criteria there will be no promotion to the Lowland League.[5]

Based on the number of clubs remaining after the results of promotion to and from the league are known, the bottom and possibly second-bottom placed clubs will be relegated to the East of Scotland Football League, South of Scotland Football League, or West of Scotland Football League depending on their geographical location.[6]

Scottish CupEdit

All Lowland League clubs are full members of the Scottish Football Association and qualify automatically for the first round of the Scottish Cup. The league champions and the runner-up receive a bye into the cup's second round.

The furthest a Lowland League team has reached in the Scottish Cup is the fifth round (last 16); The Spartans in 2014–15 (lost 1–0 to Berwick Rangers in a replay),[7] East Kilbride in 2015–16 (lost 2–0 to Celtic)[8] and BSC Glasgow in 2019–20 (lost 4–1 to Hibernian).[9]

HistoryEdit

The Lowland Football League was intended on helping institute a football pyramid including promotion and relegation from Scottish football's national divisions down to its junior and amateur levels by the Scottish Football Association.[10]

FormationEdit

The Lowland League was founded by a unanimous vote of members of the Scottish Football Association (SFA) on 11 June 2013,[3] The league would be composed of teams drawn from the East of Scotland, South of Scotland, and junior leagues, who met on 17 June 2013 to elect between them the founder-members of the new league.[11]

While most clubs were invited to submit bids to join, Preston Athletic, The Spartans and Threave Rovers were offered automatic entry as they were already fully licensed by the SFA.[11] While 27 clubs had registered their interest, the Lowland League received 17 applications to join.[12] After the meeting on 17 June, it was announced there would be 12 teams in the league, and that they would be: Dalbeattie Star, East Kilbride, Edinburgh City, Gala Fairydean Rovers, Gretna 2008, Preston Athletic, Selkirk, The Spartans, Threave Rovers, University of Stirling, Vale of Leithen, and Whitehill Welfare.[13]

ExpansionEdit

Subsequent seasons saw the number of participating clubs increase. Two clubs, Edinburgh University and BSC Glasgow, were admitted to the league for the 2014–15 season.[14] They were joined the following season by Cumbernauld Colts.[15] Civil Service Strollers and Hawick Royal Albert joined in June 2016, making it a 16-team league.

PyramidEdit

The end of the 2015–16 season was the first time that founding members would leave the league; Edinburgh City became the first club to be promoted to the SPFL, while Threave Rovers declined the opportunity to re-apply to the league after finishing bottom and rejoined the South of Scotland Football League.[16] The same season also saw East Stirlingshire become the first club relegated into the league from Scottish League Two.

Another founding member would leave the league at the end of the 2016-17 season as Preston Athletic were relegated to the East of Scotland League. They were replaced by Edusport Academy who became the first club to gain promotion from the South of Scotland League.[17]

In 2017–18 the first promotion play-off took place between the champions of the East of Scotland and South of Scotland leagues, with former SJFA East Region club Kelty Hearts winning 10–0 on aggregate over Threave Rovers to gain promotion.[18]

Decline of SelkirkEdit

During the 2018–19 season Selkirk resigned their membership in the league owing to insurmountable difficulties.[19] It was agreed by the Lowland League board that all fixtures played by and to be played by Selkirk in 2018–19 would be expunged from the record along with any other data involving Selkirk for that season. The Lowland League moved forward with 15 clubs, however Whitehill Welfare, who finished bottom in the season's competition, were still relegated to the East of Scotland League.[20][21] East of Scotland champions Bonnyrigg Rose were promoted to the league after gaining their SFA membership.[22][23] Berwick Rangers became the second club to be relegated into the league from the SPFL, having lost the League Two play-off against Cove Rangers.[24]

Recent historyEdit

At the start of the 2019–20 season Edusport Academy rebranded the club as the Caledonian Braves following a vote online by members of the Our Football Club.com project.[25] [26] The 2019–20 league season was suspended on 13 March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[27] A month later, the competition was ended with immediate effect with Kelty Hearts being declared champions on a points per game average based on the current standings.[28] Vale of Leithen who were bottom of the league were also spared relegation.[29]

On 14 April 2020, the Lowland League announced it had approved 67 applications to join the new West of Scotland Football League, which included all 63 clubs from the Scottish Junior Football Association's West Region, and four others. Bonnyton Thistle already a member of the South of Scotland League decided to move due to being based in Kilmarnock.[30] The West of Scotland League will act as a feeder league on the same tier as the East of Scotland Football League and South of Scotland Football League.

The league will consist of 17 teams for the 2020-21 season with.East of Scotland champions Bo'ness United being promoted after gaining their SFA membership in June 2020.[31][32]

Member clubsEdit

Team Location Stadium Capacity Seats
Berwick Rangers Berwick-upon-Tweed Shielfield Park 4,099 1,366
Bo'ness United Bo'ness Newtown Park 2,500 0
Bonnyrigg Rose Athletic Bonnyrigg New Dundas Park 2,200 0
BSC Glasgow Alloa Recreation Park[a] 3,100 919
Caledonian Braves Motherwell Alliance Park 500 100
Civil Service Strollers Edinburgh Christie Gillies Park 1,569 100
Cumbernauld Colts Cumbernauld Broadwood Stadium 8,086 8,086
Dalbeattie Star Dalbeattie Islecroft Stadium 1,320 100
East Kilbride East Kilbride K Park 660 400
East Stirlingshire Falkirk Falkirk Stadium[b] 7,937 7,937
Edinburgh University Edinburgh East Peffermill Stadium 1,100 100
Gala Fairydean Rovers Galashiels 3G Arena, Netherdale 2,000 500
Gretna 2008 Gretna Raydale Park 1,030 138
Kelty Hearts Kelty New Central Park 2,660 353
The Spartans Edinburgh Ainslie Park 3,612 534
University of Stirling Stirling Forthbank Stadium[c] 3,808 2,508
Vale of Leithen Innerleithen Victoria Park 1,500 0
Notes
  1. ^ BSC Glasgow are ground-sharing with Alloa Athletic due to the lack of a suitable venue in Glasgow.
  2. ^ East Stirlingshire are ground-sharing with Falkirk.
  3. ^ University of Stirling are ground-sharing with Stirling Albion.

All grounds are equipped with floodlights.

Former membersEdit

Promoted to the SPFL
Relegated
Resigned

SeasonsEdit

Season Champions Runners-up Relegated Play-off winner
2013–14 The Spartans University of Stirling Does not appear Does not appear
2014–15 Edinburgh City East Kilbride Does not appear Does not appear
2015–16 Edinburgh City * (2) The Spartans Threave Rovers S Does not appear
2016–17 East Kilbride East Stirlingshire Preston Athletic E Does not appear
2017–18 The Spartans (2) East Kilbride (2) Hawick Royal Albert E Kelty Hearts E
2018–19 East Kilbride (2) BSC Glasgow Whitehill Welfare E Does not appear
2019–20 Kelty Hearts Bonnyrigg Rose Does not appear Does not appear
* Team promoted to Scottish League Two
E Team relegated to or promoted from the East of Scotland Football League
S Team relegated to the South of Scotland Football League

† Season curtailed due to COVID-19 pandemic. Kelty announced champions on 13 April 2020 but were not invited to play-off for promotion to Scottish League Two.[28]

RecordsEdit

Biggest home win
Kelty Hearts 11-0 Vale of Leithen, 14 December 2019
Biggest away win
Hawick Royal Albert 0–10 Selkirk, 2 August 2017
Most goals in a game
The Spartans 11–2 Selkirk, 7 December 2013[33]
Most points in a season
75; East Kilbride, 2016-17
Fewest points in a season
5; Selkirk, 2013-14[a]
Longest unbeaten run in a season
21; Kelty Hearts, 2019–20
Most wins in a season
24; Edinburgh City, 2015-16 and East Kilbride, 2016-17
Fewest wins in a season
1; Hawick Royal Albert, 2017-18
Most draws in a season
10; University of Stirling, 2018-19
Most defeats in a season
26; Hawick Royal Albert, 2017-18
Fewest defeats in a season
1; Edinburgh City, 2014-15 and Kelty Hearts, 2019-20
Most goals scored in a season
107; East Stirlingshire, 2016-17
Fewest goals scored in a season
18; Hawick Royal Albert, 2017-18, Edinburgh University and Vale of Leithen, 2019-20
Most goals conceded in a season
108; Hawick Royal Albert, 2017-18
Fewest goals conceded in a season
12; East Kilbride, 2018-19
Highest attendance
1,510; Kelty Hearts 3–2 Bonnyrigg Rose Athletic, 29 February 2020[34]
Notes
  1. ^ Inaugural league season which consisted of 12 teams. Hawick Royal Albert's 6 points from 30 games in 2017-18 is fewer points per game.

ManagersEdit

The longest-serving manager at a Lowland League club is Douglas Samuel, who has managed The Spartans since 2012.[35] Spartans won the inaugural league title during the 2013-14 season[36] and clinched their second title in 2018.[37]

Civil Service Strollers boss Gary Jardine has also won two league titles with Edinburgh City and is currently the only manager to guide a Lowland League club to promotion to the SPFL.[38]

East Kilbride have won the title twice with two different managers, Martin Lauchlan in 2017[39] and Stuart Malcolm in 2019.[40][41]

Winning managers
Manager Club(s) Wins Winning years
  Gary Jardine Edinburgh City 2 2014–15, 2015–16
  Douglas Samuel The Spartans 2013–14, 2017–18
  Martin Lauchlan East Kilbride 1 2016–17
  Stuart Malcolm East Kilbride 2018–19
  Barry Ferguson Kelty Hearts 2019–20
Current managers
Nat. Name Club Appointed Time as manager
  Douglas Samuel The Spartans 5 June 2012 8 years, 145 days
  Dorian Ogunro Edinburgh University 15 June 2013 7 years, 135 days
  Chris Anderson Vale of Leithen 27 April 2015 5 years, 184 days
  Craig McKinlay Cumbernauld Colts 8 June 2015 5 years, 142 days
  Ricky Waddell Caledonian Braves 1 September 2015 5 years, 57 days
  Stephen Swift BSC Glasgow 12 April 2017 3 years, 199 days
  Chris Geddes Stirling University 30 June 2017 3 years, 120 days
  Gary Jardine Civil Service Strollers 23 May 2018 2 years, 158 days
  Derek Ure East Stirlingshire 6 September 2018 2 years, 52 days
  Barry Ferguson Kelty Hearts 18 October 2018 2 years, 10 days
  Robbie Horn Bonnyrigg Rose Athletic 8 November 2018 1 year, 355 days
  Max Christie Bo'ness United 30 January 2019 1 year, 272 days
  Ritchie Maxwell Dalbeattie Star 9 May 2019 1 year, 172 days
  Neil Hastings Gala Fairydean Rovers 23 May 2019 1 year, 158 days
  Ian Little Berwick Rangers 3 June 2019 1 year, 147 days
  Rowan Alexander Gretna 2008 3 December 2019 330 days
  Stephen Aitken East Kilbride 29 May 2020 152 days

Youth competitionsEdit

The Lowlands Development League operates for the Under 20s youth teams of clubs in the Lowland, East of Scotland, South of Scotland and West of Scotland Leagues, along with other invited clubs. Originally named the Lowland and East of Scotland Under 20 Development League when it began in 2014, this replaced an earlier Under 19 league run by the East of Scotland League. Matches are normally played on Friday nights.

The Under 20s league expanded to 31 teams for the 2019–20 season, split into two conferences, having already increased in size from 13 to 23 teams thanks to the addition of new clubs to the East of Scotland League in 2018–19. At the end of the season there will be a play-off match between the winners of each conference at a neutral venue to determine the league champions.

Edinburgh City were declared champions of Conference A and University of Stirling champions of Conference B after the 2019-20 season was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[42]

From the 2020-21 season, there is a newly formed West Conference due to the introduction of the West of Scotland League within the Scottish football pyramid.[43] The East Conference will consist of 30 teams and the West Conference will consist of 38.[44] There will be two conferences in the East with a 16-14 split and three conferences in the West with a split of 14-12-12.[45]

These clubs also take part in knockout cup competitions, and prior to it becoming a competition for Under 18 teams in 2018 many also competed in the annual SFA Scottish Youth Cup.

Lowland League CupEdit

This 16 team straight knock-out tournament takes place over four weekends at the end of the league season. The league champion has the right to withdraw from the competition to concentrate on the Scottish League Two play-offs.

Season Winner Score Runners–up
2013–14 University of Stirling 5–2[46] Preston Athletic
2014–15 East Kilbride 3–1[47] Gretna 2008
2015–16 East Kilbride 0–0 AET
4–2 on penalties[48]
Gretna 2008
2016–17 The Spartans 3–0[49] BSC Glasgow
2017–18 Cumbernauld Colts 3–1[50] Selkirk
2018–19 BSC Glasgow 2–1[51] East Stirlingshire
2019–20 No competition

SponsorshipEdit

On 24 September 2013, the Scottish Sun newspaper announced it was sponsoring the league.[52] The league was then sponsored by Ferrari Packaging on a two-year agreement, which was extended to cover the 2017–18 season.[53] In August 2018, GeoSonic, the Alloa-based sonic drilling contractor, concluded a one-year deal to become the new title sponsor of the Scottish Lowland Football League for the 2018-19 season.[54]

Media coverageEdit

The league has its own podcast known as The Lowland League Catchup.[55] As well as weekly previews to games, and reviews known as the Roundup.[56]

On 19 September 2018, the SLFL agreed a comprehensive media partnership with RockSport Radio but this has since ended.[57]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Scottish Lowland Football League Constitution and Rules" (PDF). Scottish Lowland Football League. 20 July 2018. p. 16. Retrieved 8 February 2019.
  2. ^ Park, Michael (30 March 2018). "Playoff Dates Confirmed". Scottish Lowland League. Retrieved 16 January 2019.
  3. ^ a b "Scottish FA approves Lowland League for next season". BBC Sport. 11 June 2013.
  4. ^ "Cowdenbeath 1-1 East Kilbride AET (penalties 5-3)". 20 May 2017. Retrieved 16 January 2019.
  5. ^ "LOWER PYRAMID PLAY - OFF COMPETITION RULES" (PDF). Lowland Football League. Retrieved 8 July 2020.
  6. ^ "Scottish Lowland Football League Constitution and Rules" (PDF). Scottish Lowland League. Retrieved 8 July 2020.
  7. ^ "Berwick Rangers 1-0 Spartans". BBC Sport. 17 February 2015. Retrieved 26 February 2020.
  8. ^ "East Kilbride 0 Celtic 2: Hoops go through but Ronny Deila's men struggle". Daily Record. 7 February 2016. Retrieved 11 February 2020.
  9. ^ McKay, Gabriel (9 February 2020). "BSC Glasgow 1 Hibs 4 as McNulty sinks Lowland League side - 3 talking points". Daily Record. Retrieved 11 February 2020.
  10. ^ "George Peat's Scottish football pyramid plan quickly bogged down in political sands". The Telegraph. 11 December 2008. Retrieved 11 June 2013.
  11. ^ a b "Scottish clubs approve creation of Lowland League as part of pyramid". STV. 11 June 2013.
  12. ^ "Dozen clubs to play in Scottish Lowland Football League announced". STV. 17 June 2013. Retrieved 20 June 2013.
  13. ^ "Scottish Lowland Football League clubs selected". Scottish FA. 17 June 2013. Retrieved 17 June 2013.
  14. ^ "Lowland League announces new members for next season". BBC Sport. BBC. 28 April 2014. Retrieved 29 April 2014.
  15. ^ "Cumbernauld Colts admitted to Lowland League". Lowland Football League. Lowland League. 3 June 2015. Retrieved 5 June 2015.
  16. ^ Gillespie, Stuart (5 June 2016). "Threave Rovers' South of Scotland League return confirmed after three years in the Lowland League". Daily Record. Retrieved 10 August 2016.
  17. ^ Park, Michael (2 May 2017). "Edusport Academy win promotion to the Lowland League". Scottish Lowland League. Retrieved 1 June 2020.
  18. ^ Gillespie, Stuart (18 May 2018). "No promotion for Threave". dailyrecord. Retrieved 16 January 2019.
  19. ^ "Selkirk FC Resign from Scottish Lowland League - Scottish Lowland League". Scottish Lowland League. 28 August 2018. Retrieved 14 September 2018.
  20. ^ "Lowland League Relegation Confirmed - News - Whitehill Welfare". www.whitehillwelfare.co.uk. Retrieved 5 April 2019.
  21. ^ "Relegation Confirmed - News - Whitehill Welfare". www.whitehillwelfare.co.uk. Retrieved 14 June 2019.
  22. ^ "CLUB ANNOUNCEMENT - Bonnyrigg Rose Athletic granted SFA membership - News - Bonnyrigg Rose Athletic - Bonnyrigg Rose Athletic FC". www.bonnyriggrosefc.co.uk. Retrieved 14 June 2019.
  23. ^ "Statement - Promotion and Relegation". Scottish Lowland League. 14 June 2019. Retrieved 14 June 2019.
  24. ^ "Berwick Rangers 0-3 Cove Rangers (agg 0-7): Cove replace Berwick in senior set-up". 18 May 2019. Retrieved 27 June 2019.
  25. ^ Marketing. "Caledonian Braves - NLL Latest News - NL Leisure". www.nlleisure.co.uk. Retrieved 27 July 2019.
  26. ^ "Home". Our Football Club. Retrieved 27 July 2019.
  27. ^ Team, Media (13 March 2020). "Coronavirus : Joint Response Group Update". Scottish Lowland League. Retrieved 13 April 2020.
  28. ^ a b "Kelty Hearts named champions as Lowland League called early". BBC Sport. 13 April 2020. Retrieved 13 April 2020.
  29. ^ "Season Ends With Immediate Effect - Kelty Hearts crowned as champions". Scottish Lowland League. 13 April 2020. Retrieved 13 April 2020.
  30. ^ "Pyramid Update - 67 Applications Approved". Scottish Lowland League. 14 April 2020. Retrieved 7 May 2020.
  31. ^ "Linlithgow Rose boss Brown Ferguson applauds Lowland League for authorising Bo'ness United promotion". www.linlithgowgazette.co.uk. Retrieved 19 June 2020.
  32. ^ "Day of destiny as Bo'ness Utd set for Lowland League place". www.falkirkherald.co.uk. Retrieved 19 June 2020.
  33. ^ "Goal-fest sees Spartans shell-shock Selkirk in 11-2 rout | The Spartans FC Official Website – Live together. Play together. Win together". Retrieved 20 January 2020.
  34. ^ "Match Attendance: 1510". Twitter. Kelty Hearts FC. Retrieved 29 February 2020.
  35. ^ "New Spartans boss Samuel praises Uni for first chance". www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com. Retrieved 3 September 2020.
  36. ^ "Spartans win first Lowland League". BBC Sport. Retrieved 3 September 2020.
  37. ^ Park, Michael (15 April 2018). "THE SPARTANS ARE CHAMPIONS!". Scottish Lowland League. Retrieved 3 September 2020.
  38. ^ Smith, Mike (23 May 2018). "Strollers Appoint Gary Jardine as Manager". The Edinburgh Reporter. Retrieved 3 September 2020.
  39. ^ Thomson, Paul (1 April 2017). "East Kilbride are Lowland League champions after thumping win at Gala". Daily Record. Retrieved 3 September 2020.
  40. ^ "East Kilbride clinch Lowland League title with win over Spartans". www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com. Retrieved 3 September 2020.
  41. ^ Thomson, Paul (14 November 2019). "Forfar boss Stuart Malcolm on his regrets and achievements at East Kilbride". Daily Record. Retrieved 3 September 2020.
  42. ^ Club, University of Stirling Football (14 April 2020). "Congratulations boys pic.twitter.com/820ABCxp5M". @StirlingUniFC. Retrieved 6 May 2020.
  43. ^ "Lowland Development League update". Twitter. Retrieved 16 June 2020.
  44. ^ "A further update ahead of the 2020/21 Development League". Twitter. Retrieved 30 June 2020.
  45. ^ Muir, Matthew. "Lowlands Development Teams Confirmed as League Set-Up is Revealed". www.youthfootballscotland.co.uk. Retrieved 2 July 2020.
  46. ^ https://www.stir.ac.uk/footballclub/report/2013-14/270414lowlandleaguecupfinal/
  47. ^ http://gretnafc2008.blogspot.co.uk/2015/05/gretna-fc-2008-1-east-kilbride-3.html?spref=tw
  48. ^ http://www.pieandbovril.com/forum/index.php?/topic/230937-lowland-league-cup-final/
  49. ^ http://www.bscglasgow.co.uk/bscglasgownews/bsc-glasgow-0-spartans-3-22-05-17.html
  50. ^ http://slfl.co.uk/tournament/ferrari-packaging-lowland-league-cup/
  51. ^ http://slfl.co.uk/lowland-league-cup-final-details/
  52. ^ "Drive to attract sponsor takes time, says SFA chief Stewart Regan". 23 September 2013. Retrieved 9 January 2020.
  53. ^ Thomson, Paul (30 July 2015). "East Kilbride packaging firm wrap up sponsorship deal with Lowland League". Daily Record. Glasgow. Retrieved 27 May 2016.
  54. ^ "Lowland League Announces New Title Sponsor - Scottish Lowland League". Scottish Lowland League. 24 August 2018. Retrieved 14 September 2018.
  55. ^ "Lowland League Catchup (@OfficialCatchup) | Twitter". twitter.com. Retrieved 27 February 2019.
  56. ^ "News - Scottish Lowland League". Scottish Lowland League. Retrieved 29 September 2018.
  57. ^ "Lowland League & Rocksport Sign Media Partnership - Scottish Lowland League". Scottish Lowland League. 19 September 2018. Retrieved 21 September 2018.

External linksEdit