The SPFL and Scottish FA have confirmed that the pyramid playoffs will go ahead this season following legal clarification from an experienced judge.
Lowland League champions Kelty Hearts will now face their Highland League counter-parts Brora Rangers over two legs for the right to play whichever club finishes at the foot of League 2; almost certainly Brechin City.
The dates for the initial tie are expected to be confirmed imminently, with Kelty keen to have concrete plans in place for their 200-mile round-trip to Dudgeon Park in the first leg as quickly as possible.
Barry Ferguson’s Kelty were declared the winners of their division on a points-per-game basis following 13 fixtures, while Brora claimed the title via the same measure after completing just three games.
That prompted Brechin City to table a reconstruction proposal as an alternative, while Cowdenbeath chairman Donald Findlay questioned the fairness of the playoffs, citing ‘sporting integrity’.
As such, the matter went to an arbitration process, with a top legal mind eventually siding with the previously held opinion of the Scottish FA: that the games should go ahead.
Scottish FA chief executive Ian Maxwell said: “The principle of the Scottish football pyramid is of huge importance to the integrity of open competition.
— Kelty Hearts Football Club (@KeltyHeartsFC) April 29, 2021
“It was vital, given the implications for all three clubs, that the respective organisations took all practicable steps to ensure that the play-offs could take place.
“We are delighted that the decision by the judge corresponded with the view of the Scottish FA and provides the necessary clarity to the league bodies and certainty to those clubs affected.”
SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster added: “Like so many aspects of our sport, both the clubs and the SPFL have been in uncharted territory as a result of the disruption caused by COVID-19.
“We are 100% committed to the principle of the sporting pyramid but were understandably keen to ensure that any decisions reached were both fair and in accordance with the rules and agreements of all four organisations.
“We therefore worked with the Scottish FA to conduct an arbitration in front of a senior judge and are very pleased that the position has been definitively clarified, and that this season’s pyramid playoff matches will proceed as normal.”