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Team crowned league champions after THREE games played with promotion at stake

A team have learned on Tuesday that they have been crowned league champions after THREE games played with promotion still at stake.

That club is Brora Rangers who have won the Highland League after just three league matches and on goal difference over Fraserburgh.

The SHFL management committee moved to conclude the league season in agreement with all clubs in the north set-up for the second time.

Here they are just days after knocking Hearts out of the Scottish Cup, causing a huge shock…


The Highland League League Management Committee met last evening to take stock of season 2020-2021 and the prospects of completing the planned fixture programme.

In view of the circumstances the meeting decided to call a halt to season 2020-2021 because it could not see a viable means to finish it in reasonable time that would allow appropriate preparations for season 2021-2022. The clear hope is that the new season will provide circumstances that enable a return to more normal activity.

The LMC also decided to honour ots obligation to the Scottish Football Pyramid by declaring Brora Rangers FC the champion club for 2020-2021.

SFA Pyramid Play-offs Season 2020-21 – SHFL Determination of Champion Club

The SHFL is a committed member league of the SFA Pyramid for Scottish Football. This commitment brings with it an obligation to produce a champion club to take part in the annual Pyramid Play-offs and, once the appropriate arrangements are in place at Pyramid Level 6, to ensure that play-offs between Level 5 and Level 6 in the North/North-East of Scotland are established.

The SHFL champion club is determined by points won in championship matches and, given the League Management Committee (LMC) precedent of 21st March 2020, where the season can’t be completed, on a points per game basis. In the event of points being equal, goal difference applies – SHFL rule 8.1.3 refers.

The SHFL LMC has the power to make the decisions on how the champion club is identified – SHFL Rule 4.2.1 refers – ‘The business of the League shall be conducted by the League Management Committee….’.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, LMC standing orders were suspended for the duration of the pandemic by a unanimous vote at the EGM on 21st March 2020. This suspension continues as the pandemic is not yet over.

The 2020-21 season has been shortened severely by pandemic circumstances. The League took great care to hold off beginning the Championship until it could start at a stage at which it was as safe as possible to do so in the communities in which the League is based. This was also for the sake of people involved in the League’s activities – its sense of responsibility to that context is important – and it has been unfortunate that another suspension of play occurred, thereby further truncating the season.

The Scottish Government has allowed the restart of Scottish Leagues 1 and 2, subject to weekly testing of all involved for the remainder of the season. The cost of PCR testing – at an estimated £1,500 per club per week – is beyond the sustainable resources of SHFL clubs for the length of even a shortened League campaign. It should be noted that, from the outset, the League’s top priority has been to seek to ensure that all clubs survived beyond the pandemic.

Strict interpretation of the Pyramid Play-off rules means that the obligation to produce a champion club has to relate to the season in which the play-offs take place. The LMC therefore considered the matter using League rules and decision precedent of a points per game basis, and where necessary, goal difference as its guide.

Consequently, with a decision having been made to call an end to Season 2020-21, the LMC unanimously agreed that Brora Rangers FC should be declared the SHFL Champion Club for Season 2020-21 and be put forward as the SHFL’s nominated club for the SHFL/SLFL/SPFL play-offs.

Here is the time Brora Rangers lifted the trophy for the 2019/20 season…

Kelty Hearts were declared Lowland Champions 24 hours before after 13 games.

Brora Rangers manager Steven Mackay said: “This decision will fuel the conversation with the SFA and we’re grateful for the support of our fellow clubs in the Highland League.

“Kelty have been awarded the Lowland League and Brora have now been awarded the Highland League.

“It will start fuelling those discussions in the SFA and probably put them under a little bit more pressure to act.

“Brora don’t want to be winning leagues after three games, but it is a mechanism to get us there.

“To be awarded something after three games is borderline ridiculous and quite embarrassing from our perspective because we want to earn the right.

“But it is a mechanism now to push ourselves towards the play-offs with Lowland League Kelty.

“If the first step towards that is awarding us the league, I think that’s the right thing to do.”

Mackay claims that if the authorities don’t sanction play-offs this season, they must allow Kelty and Brora to step up through league reconstruction.

Fans reacted as the team were crowned league champions after THREE games played and with promotion at stake…

@braveheart13205: Three matches played? Surely this is a joke?

@HBullpen: Having grown up on Highland League football I’m struggling a bit with this one. Fully agree that Brora should get the play off chance after last season’s mess but I do wonder if that could have been done without actually declaring them champions?

@SPFLWatch: Taking it out of context, they won the HL last season and were declined a Playoff by the SPFL, so the HL board nominated them as Champions once again which was fair enough.

@CallumGDavidson: Winning a league after playing 3 games man 😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂

@KyleMc__: Scottish football in a nutshell

@skayr100: How can you give a team the league title after playing 3 games

@jedmilne06: What an absolute shambles

@bobsyshambs: It’s funny and all but this is just to give them the chance at the promotion they were shafted out of last year. Anyone else top and it would have been void.


@dmcm24286: Let’s hope the lowland do the same and allow Kelty and Brora the chance to gain promotion

@GreigC22: 3 matches? Seriously? 3?

@MaroonAnalyt1cs: Congratulations @brorarangers

More reaction came in as the team were crowned league champions after THREE games played and with promotion at stake…

@TartanSheep83: That’s pathetic 🤣

@BigEene: Absolutely ridiculous.

@chrissydodds_: Tell you what, Kelty Hearts v Brora Rangers to determine who will get into the SPFL is going to be one tasty tie, should’ve had their chance last year, glad they’re getting it this time around.

@CunningColin: Conflicted on this tbh. Obviously not ideal calling a league after 3 games (9 for the Lowland) but not nominating a champion would mean the play-offs likely wouldn’t take place. Worth noting that Brora and Kelty were both champions in 19/20 and didn’t get a go last season.

@RossMc11: This needs an open-topped bus parade. Possibly also a flypast.

@Horus24378106: What an embarrassment, something Scotland does so well. And people wonder why Scotland’s lower leagues are compared to pub leagues.

@cowboy1867: So League 1 and 2 clubs are busting a gut to get the season completed by cramming fixtures into a tight schedule. And these guys just declare champions and expect them to waltz into an unmerited play off spot. Get tae f*ck!

@henderson_exp: So @brorarangers win the league on goal difference on and after three games. Oh and one of those games was against Fort William so all looks well here.

@FitbawReal: Tasty play-off in prospect between @brorarangers and @KeltyHeartsFC. Both sides deserve a shot at the play off and earn a spot in the leagues. In my opinion it must go ahead. A second year with no pyramid play off match would make a mockery of the system.

@anthonyevans97: In fairness Brora would have fancied themselves in the SPFL play offs last season so it’s inky right that they get the opportunity

@davidstoker_lfc: Declaring a champion club after three games can’t be right. Rather than uphold the pyramid, the Highland and Lowland Leagues are undermining it by putting forward champions with little or no credibility. That’s before you look at how they limit access to their own leagues.

@Harry_McArthur: Imo they should do this for all leagues in Scotland. The first three games of the season truly are the only fair way to determine the best team in the league. Hibernian champions ohhhhh.

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