With Perth junior club Jeanfield Swifts applying to join football’s senior ranks some are wondering if it’s game over for the Scottish juniors.
Are we witnessing the demise of a unique 132-year-old institution?
The juniors are a strange hybrid, never integrated into the senior ranks but with some clubs having greater financial muscle and support than some clubs in the Scottish professional leagues.
A recent ballot of 158 junior clubs saw 99 in favour of joining the pyramid system.
In the east, the junior super and premier leagues have been decimated as clubs apply to join the new East of Scotland League which, as the sixth tier of the game, is part of the pathway for clubs to progress as far in senior football as ambition and finance allows.
Great old junior names like St Andrews, Dundonald Bluebell, Linlithgow Rose, and, this week, Jeanfield have all applied to join the new set-up.
The glory days of the juniors are long gone but in their heyday the cup final at Hampden attracted huge crowds.
Over 77,000 attended when Petershill beat Irvine Meadow in 1951.
Even in the immediate post-war years, the big derby in Dundee between Violet and Lochee Harp drew almost 7,000.
Both of the city’s senor clubs would be pretty pleased with an attendance like that nowadays.
The game is changing, though, and with more emphasis on community and youth ambitious juniors are seeing the potential to go further in the pyramid structure than they can in their own set-up.
English football has been radically altered with the introduction of such a system and now the same could happen in Scotland.
There are pitfalls.
Many junior clubs have neither the desire, support, or infrastructure to be bigger than they are presently, and the licensing requirements needed to join the fifth tier lowland league will be costly even with SFA help.
Some critics in the junior game think that those leaving the ranks are chasing fools gold in thinking that there is a limitless pot of SFA cash available.
Junior clubs in the Dundee area would have to join the Highland league as the entry point in the pyramid, involving expensive and lengthy trips to Wick and Brora.
With Lothian area clubs wanting to make the move, though, the future for the junior game as it currently stands is uncertain.
Ambitious Kelty Hearts left the juniors, frustrated with the ceiling in the super league, which limited advancement.
They won the East of Scotland league and then a play-off to enter the Lowland league next season. In important games they have drawn crowds as big as some clubs in the lower leagues in the senior ranks.
Some junior clubs in the west have greater potential than many current senior clubs.
Depending on how they see their futures, the game in 10 years’ time may look very different at lower league level as old established names are muscled aside.
And who knows? Just as Dundee is a two-team town, Jeanfield Swifts may someday rival St Johnstone for the affections of fans in the ever-burgeoning Fair City.