Brechin City face the biggest week in their 115-year history as they battle both on and off the park to rescue their SPFL status.
The Angus side have written to the SPFL board stating it would be ‘fundamentally unfair’ to hold play-offs between the club that finishes bottom of League Two (known as club 42 in reflection of their position in the overall league standings) and the winner of the Highland and Lowland League play-off.
In a statement released on Tuesday night, City confirmed they are seeking reconstruction talks that would expand League Two to 12 clubs – a move that would almost certainly offer Brora Rangers and Kelty Hearts an automatic route into the SPFL.
The SPFL have yet to respond to Brechin’s letter and have made no public statement on whether or not they intend going ahead with the play-offs in May.
This is football. pic.twitter.com/UAZh1CDAds
— Brechin City FC (@BrechinCityFC) April 19, 2021
On the park, the Glebe Park side need a dramatic turnaround in fortunes over the next seven days if they are to avoid the unwanted fate of becoming club 42.
Going into Tuesday’s match with second bottom Cowdenbeath, Brechin were eight points adrift at the foot of the table, having won just won one of their 17 games to date, a 2-0 away win at Albion Rovers in October.
With just five games left they are effectively just eight points away from being confirmed as club 42 for the second season in a row.
What happens next?
Brechin will go into a League Two split with the bottom five clubs in the division – facing Stenhousemuir. Albion Rovers, Annan and Cowdenbeath between now and May 4th.
If Michael Paton’s men fail to turn around their fortunes over the coming weeks they could be confirmed as the bottom side next Tuesday when they face their ninth placed opponents – either Cowdenbeath or Annan depending on results over the next two matches.
Lessons from last season
Brechin propped up League Two when the season was curtailed after 27 games due to Covid-19.
That led to calls from some for the Glebe Park side to be plunged into a play-off – ironically against either Brora or Kelty.
When it became apparent that a play-off was impossible due to blanket ban on football, critics suggested Brechin had escaped automatic relegation.
However, the Angus side successfully argued that the competition rules at the start of the season stated that club 42 would face a pyramid play-off NOT automatic relegation.
There is nothing “fundamentally unfair” years ago clubs voted for a pyramid. We even voted for it 😬 We were the 1st club 42 and took our medicine, embraced the Lowland League and rallied @OfficialBRFC did the same. Dry your eyes @BrechinCityFC you are bottom for a reason. @spfl https://t.co/oFcCKjoQwF
— East Stirlingshire FC (@TheShireFC) April 20, 2021
How did we get here?
Brechin’s fall from grace has been stark in recent times. Less than four years ago, they were celebrating promotion to the Championship after a penalty shoot-out play-off win over Alloa.
As the only part-time team in the league, however, they struggled and created an unwanted record of failing to win a single game in the entire season.
City recorded just four draws in 36 games and finished bottom of League One the following season, a point behind Stenhousemuir.
🗓 ON THIS DAY | 2017
Three years ago today, City gained promotion to the Ladbrokes Championship following a thrilling Playoff Final against @AlloaAthleticFC, culminating in a dramatic penalty shootout victory.
Thread 👇🏽 pic.twitter.com/hmIZYk3cg7
— Brechin City FC (@BrechinCityFC) May 20, 2020
Earlier this season, as they struggled to get off to a good start, they appointed the youngest manager in the league – Michael Paton.
Paton, just 31, has battled bravely to transform City’s fortunes but they had amassed just five points in 17 games going into Tuesday’s clash with Cowdenbeath.
There is little doubt that the next week could determine the fate of Brechin.
A failure to alter their fortunes on the park and a rejection of their ‘compromise’ proposals off it could plunge them into a pyramid play-off for their SPFL place.