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Fraserburgh chairman insists Brora have earned the right to compete for SPFL place

Fraserburgh chairman Finlay Noble
Fraserburgh chairman Finlay Noble

Fraserburgh chairman Finlay Noble believes Brora have earned the right to compete for a place in the SPFL even if they have been crowned champions by the slimmest of margins.

The Highland League management committee has taken the decision to call time on the season after just three league matches and declared Brora, the reigning champions, as title winners again.

Noble believes it is fair Brora can now go on to face Lowland League champions Kelty Hearts in the play-off and says there is relief among the committee members at being able to make an easy decision in naming Brora as title winners.

He said: “Initially we had looked at nominating Brora on the basis they did not get to take part in a play-off last year, but the competition rules are quite clear that it has to be the champion of this season who goes forward.

“The last thing we wanted was a legal expert somewhere challenging the decision and arguing we had not followed our own competition rules. We’ve been strict on ensuring we’ve acted accordingly.

“We’re fortunate that Brora are in the same position as they were last year and the points-by-game ratio means they can go forward as champions, an opportunity they were denied a year ago.

“The Lowland League have played more games than we have, but they have followed the same points-per-game average in naming Kelty Hearts as champions. I know it is only three matches in our league, but the same process has been followed in both.”

Brora and the Broch were the only teams with nine points from the opening three games with Brora leading Fraserburgh at the top of the league due to a goal difference advantage of four.

Brora are the 2020/21 Highland League champions.

Noble knows just how fine a margin it was between the sides, but says this year’s declaration of title winners is little more than the league following its mandated requirement to name a champion club.

He said: “I know fans will question how you can have league champions after three matches. but the fact of the matter is we had an obligation to put a club forward for the play-offs and Brora are champions in name only.

“Only four goals separated them and us, and you do wonder what if we had scored more against Turriff or they had not played Fort William.

“Had we been leading the league when play was stopped, it would have been difficult to make a case for Brora going forward as the league champions.”

The decision means Fraserburgh’s season will continue for as long as they retain an interest in the Scottish Cup.

The Broch are due to host League One side Montrose on Saturday and, while acknowledging the size of the task, Noble hopes to see his hometown team rise to the occasion.

He said: “We know if we win on Saturday we’re through to the last-16 of the Scottish Cup. It’s going to be tough, but it is not beyond us.

“Montrose have beaten Cove in the league this season and put seven past Nairn last week, which shows why they will be big favourites, but we will give it our best shot.”

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