Gala Fairydean Rovers set for highest finish yet if league is abandoned and decided on points per game

Gala Fairydean Rovers look set to record their highest finish yet in the Scottish Lowland Football League if proposals to abandon the current season and decide placings on a points-per-game basis are approved.

Monday, 29th March 2021, 5:19 pm
Updated Monday, 29th March 2021, 5:29 pm
Gala Fairydean Rovers chairman Ryan Cass

The Galashiels side have been sitting in seventh place since the season was suspended on Monday, January 11, in an effort to curb the spread of coronavirus and it now looks increasingly unlikely that play will be able to restart in time for clubs to fulfil their fixture lists or even an abbreviated version of them unless the Scottish Government’s lockdown-easing timetable is speeded up.

Declaring the season null and void, one of the options on the table and one already taken up by the sixth-tier West of Scotland Football League, would mean that the Lowland League would not be able to put forward a champion to contest play-offs with the Scottish Highland Football League’s top team for a place in League Two.

In a bid to avert that fate, members of the fifth-tier league’s board are currently considering proposals to call a halt to the current Covid-19-hit season and use a points-per-game formula to calculate final league positions.

As things stand, Fife’s Kelty Hearts would be champions and, assuming that the Highlanders’ league does likewise, would compete in play-offs with Brora Rangers, and the winners of that two-legged tie would then take on the bottom team in League Two, currently Brechin City, in the hope of moving up a division.

Following that formula, Gala, managed by Neil Hastings, would leapfrog Stirling University into sixth place as, though level on 22 points, they have three games in hand on the students, having played 12.

That would be their highest finish since the creation of the Lowland League in 2013.

South Lanarkshire’s East Kilbride would be runners-up, with Midlothian’s Bonnyrigg Rose Athletic third, followed by BSC Glasgow in fourth, East Stirlingshire fifth and Gala sixth.

Whether relegation would be on the cards as well as potential promotion has yet to be resolved, and that is due to be discussed at a meeting of the board tonight, March 29, along with the proposed curtailment of the season.

If it is, Vale of Leithen, the Borders’ other side in the 17-strong league, would face losing out as the Innerleithen outfit are currently five points adrift at the bottom, without any points after a dozen games, though they do have three matches in hand on 16th-placed Edinburgh University.

Rovers chairman Ryan Cass said: “We will have to wait for the outcome of the meeting to see what is happening, but if the league is settled by an average of points-per-game, then finishing sixth, with our playing budget compared with other big-spending clubs in the league, would be a great achievement.

“However, I would be personally disappointed if the league does not resume because I feel we could have finished even higher.

“The league stopping could not have happened at a worse time for us because the team was playing well, having recorded a deserved win at Bo'ness and narrowly losing to Annan Athletic in the Scottish Cup in a game we could easily have won.

“Manager Neil Hastings and his coaches have done a tremendous job and built a team playing a brand of football that the town can be proud of.

“If the league is called off now, then we would just have to accept it and then start preparing for next season, when hopefully restrictions will be lifted and we can get spectators back at our games.

“The majority of the squad have re-signed for next season and there will be some new faces coming into the squad as we want to continue improving and challenging at the top of the table."

The Netherdale team’s previous highest finish was eighth place in both 2019 and 2015.

They were in 11th place when the previous season was abandoned in mid-April last year soon after the start of the first coronavirus lockdown.