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Highland League clubs wait to hear if they will be in the Scottish Cup this season

By Alasdair Fraser

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ROMANCE rather than finance will be foremost in the minds of the chairmen of Clachnacuddin and Nairn County as the format for a streamlined Scottish Cup campaign is finalised.

Clachnacuddin and Nairn County may not feature in the Scottish Cup this season. Picture: Callum Mackay.
Clachnacuddin and Nairn County may not feature in the Scottish Cup this season. Picture: Callum Mackay.

The Scottish Football Association is proposing to shrink the battle for the world’s oldest association football trophy from 102 entrants to just 52 for season 2020/21.

With all 42 SPFL teams included, that would leave only 10 extra places for outfits from the Highland, Lowland, Junior and amateur ranks, compared to last year’s 60.

The Covid-19 pandemic offers little room for manoeuvre in a log-jammed fixture list and the likeliest outcome now is a ballot of the 60 teams to determine which 10 take part.

It is understood those clubs excluded by choice or luck of the draw will still receive an SFA payment, although the chance of a money-spinning glamour tie will be gone. The planned start date is Boxing Day, six days after the delayed 2020 final.

Clach chairman Alex Chisholm stressed: “We would absolutely want to take part in the Scottish Cup. It’s our national competition and it gives players, fans, everybody a great lift every year. The Scottish Cup is still held in the very highest regard at every level.

“I know there are meetings to come, but we’d certainly want to be in it if we can.

“There is always that tingle of excitement when it comes around. I’ve got great memories as a supporter of Clach going to Clydebank, Dumbarton and Albion Rovers, with the latter match in 1982 deciding who went to Ibrox. Unfortunately, we lost and it was one of my worst experiences in football!

“But that’s all part of the magic. Financially, there could be compensation but you can’t compensate for what it means to the players, staff and supporters.”

Nairn County chairman Donald Matheson echoed those sentiments.

He said: “It isn’t really about the money, it is the buzz and thrill of being in the Scottish Cup. We’ve had some terrific home games and away days down the years. Everybody still talks about 2012 when we pulled Clyde back from behind to draw 3-3 at their ground, with Callum Donaldson’s late save keeping us in it, before winning 3-2 at Station Park. We were unlucky not to beat Forfar after taking them to a replay.

“Those kind of occasions are what the Scottish Cup is all about. In all likelihood, we’ll have a one in six chance if they select clubs by ballot and that’s probably the fairest way.”

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