Lowland Football League
The Scottish Lowland Football League (SLFL, commonly known as the Lowland League) is a senior football league based in central and southern Scotland. The league sits at level 5 on the Scottish football league system, acting as a feeder to the Scottish Professional Football League, and is above three regional leagues at level 6.
|Other club(s) from||England (1 team)|
|Number of teams||18|
|Level on pyramid||5|
|Promotion to||Scottish League Two|
|Relegation to||East 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 champions||Kelty Hearts (2nd title) |
|Most championships||Edinburgh City|
|Current: 2021–22 Lowland Football League|
Since 2014-15 it has featured in the senior pyramid system. The winners take part in an end of season promotion play-off with the Highland Football League champions, with the winners then competing against the bottom club in Scottish League Two for a place in the SPFL. Promotion and relegation also exists between the three Lowlands-based regional leagues at level 6 (East, South, and West).
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.
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). 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. 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.
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.
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), East Kilbride in 2015–16 (lost 2–0 to Celtic) and BSC Glasgow in 2019–20 (lost 4–1 to Hibernian).
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.
The Lowland League was founded by a unanimous vote of members of the Scottish Football Association (SFA) on 11 June 2013, 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.
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. While 27 clubs had registered their interest, the Lowland League received 17 applications to join. 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.
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. They were joined the following season by Cumbernauld Colts. Civil Service Strollers and Hawick Royal Albert joined in June 2016, making it a 16-team league.
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. 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.
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.
Decline of SelkirkEdit
During the 2018–19 season Selkirk resigned their membership in the league owing to insurmountable difficulties. 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. East of Scotland champions Bonnyrigg Rose were promoted to the league after gaining their SFA membership. 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.
Impact of CovidEdit
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.  The 2019–20 league season was suspended on 13 March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 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. Vale of Leithen who were bottom of the league were also spared relegation.
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. 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.
Kelty Hearts promotionEdit
The league consisted 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. The start of the league season was delayed until October 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and games were played behind closed doors due to Scottish Government restrictions. On 11 January 2021 the league was suspended by the Scottish Football Association due to the escalating pandemic situation. On 30 March the league announced that a majority of clubs had voted to curtail the season, with a points per game basis used to finalise standings and Kelty Hearts were declared as the champions. Kelty became the second Lowland League club to gain promotion to the SPFL after beating Brechin City 3-1 on aggregate in the Pyramid play-off final.
Old Firm ColtsEdit
Celtic & Rangers were approached by the Lowland League for a proposal to admit "B" teams into the league for the 2021-22 season. The proposal was given provisional approval by the majority of member clubs with the vote being confirmed at the leagues AGM on 27 May 2021.
|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|
|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|
- Promoted to the SPFL
- Preston Athletic, 2017; (East of Scotland League First Division Conference B)
- Hawick Royal Albert United, 2018; (East of Scotland League First Division Conference B)
- Whitehill Welfare, 2019; (East of Scotland League Premier Division)
|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|
|2020–21||Kelty Hearts *† (2)||East Kilbride (3)||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
|2013–14||Keith McLeod||The Spartans||17|
|2014–15||Aaron Somerville||Whitehill Welfare||23|
|2015–16||Ross Allum||Edinburgh City||27|
|2016–17||David Grant||East Stirlingshire||35|
|2017–18||Jack Smith||BSC Glasgow||21|
|2018–19||Craig Malcolm||East Kilbride||25|
|2019–20||Nathan Austin||Kelty Hearts||37|
|2020–21||Jamie Penker||University of Stirling||11|
- 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
- Most points in a season
- 75; East Kilbride, 2016-17
- Fewest points in a season
- 5; Selkirk, 2013-14[a] (0; Vale of Leithen, 2020-21[b])
- 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 (0; Vale of Leithen, 2020-21[b])
- 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 (5; Vale of Leithen, 2020-21[b])
- Most goals conceded in a season
- 108; Hawick Royal Albert, 2017-18
- Fewest goals conceded in a season
- 12; East Kilbride, 2018-19 (4; Kelty Hearts, 2020-21[b])
- Highest attendance
- 1,510; Kelty Hearts 3–2 Bonnyrigg Rose Athletic, 29 February 2020
- 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.
- 2020-21 Season curtailed due to COVID-19 pandemic with fewer than 50% of matches played.
The longest-serving manager at a Lowland League club is Douglas Samuel, who has managed The Spartans since 2012. Spartans won the inaugural league title during the 2013-14 season and clinched their second title in 2018.
|Gary Jardine||Edinburgh City||2||2014–15, 2015–16|
|Douglas Samuel||The Spartans||2013–14, 2017–18|
|Barry Ferguson||Kelty Hearts||2019–20, 2020–21|
|Martin Lauchlan||East Kilbride||1||2016–17|
|Stuart Malcolm||East Kilbride||2018–19|
|Nat.||Name||Club||Appointed||Time as manager|
|Douglas Samuel||The Spartans||5 June 2012||9 years, 17 days|
|Dorian Ogunro||Edinburgh University||15 June 2013||8 years, 7 days|
|Chris Anderson||Vale of Leithen||25 April 2015||6 years, 58 days|
|James Orr||Cumbernauld Colts||8 June 2015||6 years, 14 days|
|Ricky Waddell||Caledonian Braves||1 September 2015||5 years, 294 days|
|Chris Geddes||Stirling University||30 June 2017||3 years, 357 days|
|Gary Jardine||Civil Service Strollers||23 May 2018||3 years, 30 days|
|Derek Ure||East Stirlingshire||6 September 2018||2 years, 289 days|
|Robbie Horn||Bonnyrigg Rose Athletic||8 November 2018||2 years, 226 days|
|Max Christie||Bo'ness United||30 January 2019||2 years, 143 days|
|Ritchie Maxwell||Dalbeattie Star||9 May 2019||2 years, 44 days|
|Neil Hastings||Gala Fairydean Rovers||23 May 2019||2 years, 30 days|
|Rowan Alexander||Gretna 2008||3 December 2019||1 year, 201 days|
|Stephen Aitken||East Kilbride||29 May 2020||1 year, 24 days|
|Martin Hardie||BSC Glasgow||8 May 2021||45 days|
|Stuart Malcolm||Berwick Rangers||31 May 2021||22 days|
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 SPFL 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. A year later, the aborted 2020–21 season saw numbers increase to 68 along with the addition of three West Conferences due to the introduction of the West of Scotland League within the Scottish football pyramid.
For the 2021–22 season, a record number of 88 clubs are taking part, split across six Conferences.
From the 2018–19 season, the league was split into two conferences. Conference B winners Spartans won their second title after beating Conference A winners Kelty Hearts in a play-off match which determined the overall league champions.
|2014–15||The Spartans||Whitehill Welfare|
|2015–16||Preston Athletic||The Spartans|
|2016–17||East Kilbride||The Spartans|
|2017–18||Heriot-Watt University||Cumbernauld Colts|
|2018–19||The Spartans (2)||Kelty Hearts|
|2019–20||Conference A: Edinburgh City; B: University of Stirling|
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.
|2013–14||University of Stirling||5–2||Preston Athletic|
|2014–15||East Kilbride||3–1||Gretna 2008|
|2015–16||East Kilbride||0–0 AET
4–2 on penalties
|2016–17||The Spartans||3–0||BSC Glasgow|
|2018–19||BSC Glasgow||2–1||East Stirlingshire|
On 24 September 2013, the Scottish Sun newspaper announced it was sponsoring the league. The league was then sponsored by Ferrari Packaging on a two-year agreement, which was extended to cover the 2017–18 season. 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.
On 19 September 2018, the SLFL agreed a comprehensive media partnership with RockSport Radio but this has since ended.
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- "Linlithgow Rose boss Brown Ferguson applauds Lowland League for authorising Bo'ness United promotion". www.linlithgowgazette.co.uk. Retrieved 19 June 2020.
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