Gala Fairydean Rovers to come up against Celtic and Rangers colts again next season after one-off ruling reversed

Gala Fairydean Rovers will come up against Rangers and Celtic’s colts again next season after all, following a vote this week to overturn last year’s agreement that the Old Firm pair’s inclusion in the Scottish Lowland Football League this time round would be a one-off.

By Darin Hutson
Wednesday, 6th April 2022, 6:36 pm
Updated Wednesday, 6th April 2022, 6:36 pm
Gala Fairydean Rovers playing Celtic B in February (Pic: Bill McBurnie)
Gala Fairydean Rovers playing Celtic B in February (Pic: Bill McBurnie)

The league will remain 18-strong next season, with Rangers B and Celtic B included, though they will remain ineligible for promotion or relegation.

This year’s trial run was agreed to help develop young players by giving them a taste of the adult game outwith the Scottish Professional Football League, potentially yielding benefits for the national team in years to come, and that’s the argument being advanced by league officials for carrying it on.

The colts’ games against Gala Fairydean Rovers and Vale of Leithen, as well as the other 14 teams in the league, led to higher attendances than many league games in the past, if not by as much as originally hoped for, and that’s likely to have been a major factor in the 11-4 vote in favour of welcoming the Glaswegian sides back.

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Rovers beat Rangers B 2-1 at Netherdale in September but lost by the same scoreline to Celtic B at home in February.

They lost 2-0 away to the latter in September and will play the former away a week tomorrow, at 7.45pm.

Vale of Leithen, now relegated to the East of Scotland Football League, lost all four of their games against the colts, 10-0 at home to Celtic B last August and 4-0 away in February and 6-0 at home to Rangers B in December and 9-0 away in August.

The Old Firm’s youngsters are currently neck and neck at the top end of the table, Celtic being third with 67 points from 31 games and Rangers fourth with 64 from 30.

A league spokesperson said: “Member clubs of the Scottish Lowland Football League have voted on the potential inclusion of guest clubs for season 2022-23.

“A comfortable majority of 11-4 indicated a preference for their involvement, having taken two weeks to weigh up a presentation on the topic.

“While conscious it is, understandably, a divisive and emotive subject, the overriding feeling is their presence has been of benefit in a commercial sense, and there are promising early indications of young, emerging Scottish talents benefiting from early exposure to senior football in a competitive environment.

“It is important to note that guest clubs will not be eligible for promotion, nor will they hamper the ability of clubs to be promoted to or relegated from the league.

“This has been a democratic process, with conversation and debate encouraged before any outcome was established.

“The board of the league, and member clubs, remain committed to making a positive impact within our communities and Scottish football as a whole and will maintain an open mind on any initiatives that support those aims.”