Opinion: Awarding Brora Rangers the Highland League title was the right call but it does not set a precedent

Over the weekend the Highland Football League clubs voted unanimously to end the 2019/20 season and declare Brora Rangers champions.

By Martyn Simpson
Monday, 23rd March 2020, 11:16 am
Updated Monday, 23rd March 2020, 11:18 am
Sports Reporter Martyn Simpson give his thoughts on what the decision to award Brora Rangers the Highland League title means for other leagues in Scotland
Sports Reporter Martyn Simpson give his thoughts on what the decision to award Brora Rangers the Highland League title means for other leagues in Scotland

The Sutherland side were 13 points clear at the top of the table when the league was halted – the same points difference which separates Celtic and Rangers at the top of the Ladbrokes Premiership.

Many made comparisons between the two divisions with some even suggesting the HFL could have set a precedent for other divisions .

While the decision to award Brora the title has been accepted by most as the correct one, it in no way sets a precedent for any other division in this country – be it the top flight, any of the other SPFL divisions or the Lowland League and here are the reasons why.

Brora Rangers take on fellow title hopefuls Fraserburgh earlier in the season. Brora won 2-1 at Fraserburgh at the end of February to put themselves firmly in the driving seat of the title race.

Firstly, in regards to the Premiership, there is clearly not the vitriol between certain teams that would make the decision to just award Celtic the title possible.

For sure, there is rivalry in the Highland League, anyone who has attended a Buckie Thistle v Deveronvale derby could attest to that, but there is also a mutual respect amongst teams and fans in the division which would not translate further up the leagues.

Secondly, the main factor which separates it from the other divisions is that, other than league positions and pride, there is nothing to play for other than the title – no relegation (yet) and no play-offs.

In other divisions there are play-offs, European football and relegation to consider.

Thirdly, and perhaps most interestingly, Brora had all but confirmed themselves as champions elect in the month of February when they beat both their closest rivals with a 4-0 win at home to Inverurie Locos and a 2-1 win at Fraserburgh.

The Fraserburgh match at the end of the month in particular was built up by many as effectively being a title decider despite there still being a good chunk of matches to play.

Things might be different now had the Old Firm match at Ibrox gone ahead and had Celtic won which would have meant even the most die hard Rangers fan surely having to admit the title race was over.

In League One, title rivals Raith and Falkirk played out a 1-1 draw just before games were halted meaning there was still very little to separate them, with Rovers leading the table by a solitary point.

There is a similarity in the Lowland League, Kelty Hearts beat there nearest challengers Bonnyrigg Rose 3-2 a the end of February to put the fate of that title in their own hands but they were still only six points clear of the Rose, who had a game in hand, when the season stopped.

Scottish football fans may be sick of hearing this but right now the only thing that is certain is that nothing is certain in these unprecedented times.