Highland League secretary confident league champions will be crowned before the pyramid play-offs

Pictured is the pitch at Bellslea Park Fraserburgh. Picture by Chris Sumner 19/1/18

Highland League secretary Rod Houston is confident league champions will be crowned before the pyramid play-offs start on Saturday April 21.

Houston is facing the biggest fixture backlog since he took over from long-term incumbent John Grant in May 2016 with all seven of last night’s scheduled matches falling victim to the winter weather.

Houston has been left with an administrative headache but it is one he believes can be handled.

He said: “The gross number of league games we are behind is 67, and in addition, four League Cup ties.

“Last year was easy by comparison but I’m sure there have been many worse years in the past, the difference this time is that we have to identify the champions by the middle of April.

“There are challenges, having to identify the champions by then does put a squeeze on the title contenders.

“We have nine Saturdays left in the calendar until the middle of April, and Cove have nine league fixtures to catch up on, but they already have scheduled league fixtures and if they go the distance in the League Cup, potentially three more cup ties on Saturdays to be played.”

Houston has two months to clear a backlog of 71 games but he is confident league champions will be crowned before the League 2 semi-final play-off first leg is scheduled to be played on April 21.

He said: “The one certainty is that we will find the league champions in time, and we will over-run the last round of games, scheduled for Saturday April 14, to mop up the remaining games having allowed for more Saturday’s for some of the lengthier journeys.”

Following last night’s postponements, five new fixtures have been reschduled for Wednesday, February 21.

They are: Buckie Thistle v Strathspey Thistle, Formartine United v Forres Mechanics, Huntly v Inverurie Locos, Keith v Deveronvale, Nairn County v Rothes.

In addition, the previously re-arranged fixture between Clachnacuddin and Brora Rangers will also take place on the same night.