South football split over club’s bid to join league

CONTROVERSY has hit the South of Scotland Football League over the possible admission of a South Lanarkshire side.

East Kilbride FC’s director of football has claimed his team will be playing in the South league from next season. However, while his club has applied for admission, a decision has yet to be made by the league.

The application to join has split fans and officials of the South of Scotland League, with some vehemently opposed and some in favour.

East Kilbride made an official application to join the SFA-affiliated South league in order to boost their chances of joining senior-level football, using the South as a stepping stone. But opinion is already divided, with some supporters claiming it will liven up the league and others despairing over the potential costs likely to be involved.

East Kilbride director of football, Iain King, announced at the club’s sportsman’s dinner last week that his team “would be playing in the South of Scotland League next season” in a quest to reach senior level football, putting them on the field with the likes of Newton Stewart, Wigtown and Bladnoch, and Creetown.

But South of Scotland League secretary Richard Osbourne said nothing has been confirmed and it will be down to member clubs to make a final decision.

He told the Gazette: “An official application has been made by East Kilbride and this will be discussed at our league meeting next week. I have my own ideas on which way this will go, but nothing I’m prepared to say in the press at this stage.”

One player in the league, who asked not be named, told the Gazette that it could spell disaster for the league. He said: “We’re playing on pitches that, in some instances, could do with a dose of money thrown at them but instead we might be expected to spend that cash on travelling to East Kilbride. They have a great pitch so that would be a joy, but the financial commitment to allowing them in the league could be the end of some teams and might set a precedent for other teams to 
use our league for similar gains.”

The Gazette Facebook page also attracted comments this week, with one user saying: “It’s expensive enough for the smaller clubs in our area to travel to the likes of Sanquhar or Annan and, if you are like some of us supporters and go to as many games as possible, it’s not cheap for us either. No disrespect to East Kilbride, but if they played their home games in the South it might be different.”

One man wrote: “[East Kilbride] can hardly be classed as South of Scotland!! Sure as hell I’m not taking my car up there to play a game. Absolute nonsense.”

But another added: “Can only be good for the league, gives some of the younger lads that play in the league a better chance of being noticed playing up in East Kilbride.”

Talks begin next Thursday evening at Dalbeattie, where those involved will consider the application.

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