Berwick Rangers to vote against proposal to introduce a Scottish Conference League
A statement on the club’s website said: “The proposed Scottish Conference League would sit at Tier 5 of the Scottish football pyramid and would come into effect for the 2024/25 season.
“The proposal is designed to improve the pathway for young Scottish players aged 17-21, and would entail the establishment of a new 10-team league, comprising the top four Lowland League clubs, top two Highland League clubs, and four SPFL B teams.
“Next season’s SPFL promotion play-off would be unaffected, but after next season the proposal would see the top placed eligible Conference League side go directly into a play-off with the bottom placed side in League 2.
“The Lowland League champion from 2024/5 onwards would not be guaranteed a place in the Conference League, but instead still need to win a play-off.
“B teams would be ineligible for promotion out of, or relegation from, the Conference League – so in effect the new Conference would have six teams competing for one promotion play-off place, and hoping to avoid automatic relegation for finishing bottom or a relegation play-off for finishing second from bottom.
“As a club, we have studied these proposals carefully, considering the implications of this proposal to us, our supporters, and the wider game.
“We held an online forum with Club 1881 members, and invited further thoughts on the Club 1881 Facebook page.
“We received emails from supporters with their views on the proposals as well.
“We felt we were able to engage in an articulate, thoughtful and informed conversation through this process, and the overwhelming sentiment we heard was that our supporters oppose the Conference League.
“These sentiments were shared in our informal conversations with first team coaches and playing staff.
“As a club, our continued success on and off the pitch is driven by our fans – those who attend matches, cheer on the team, and, ultimately, support us financially.
“We recognise that the Conference League is a bad deal for our fans.
“We have enjoyed competing against B teams in the Lowland League, and won some memorable victories against Celtic B and Rangers B last season.
“However, the prospect of a third of our league fixtures being against B teams would be an oversaturation, and reduce the appeal of matches at Shielfield Park for supporters and potential sponsors.
“The increased travel distances for our loyal away support was another issue that was reported back to us consistently, and we have listened to those comments as well.
“Voting in favour of the Conference League would go against the wishes of the core of our fan base, and as a club we would never allow that to happen.”
The statement added that the club didn’t necessarily believe the Conference League was the best way to help young players progress and that the board of directors would continue “working to build a community-focused club which offers the best possible matchday experience”.