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Peterhead boss Jim McInally says restarting SPFL’s lower leagues while barring Highland and Lowland sides from playing would be ‘shambles’

Peterhead manager Jim McInally
Peterhead manager Jim McInally

Peterhead manager Jim McInally believes the Highland and Lowland leagues need to be factored into any League 1 and League 2 restart plan – for the good of the pyramid system and the Scottish Cup.

All football in Scotland below the Championship is currently suspended until at least February 14.

In a bid to return to action, a working group made up of the 20 League 1 and League 2 clubs submitted a Route to Playing Again document to the SFA which proposed starting playing games again on March 2 and weekly Covid-19 testing for the personnel involved.

Nothing has been rubber-stamped yet regarding lower- league football resuming.

But Blue Toon boss McInally is concerned about the possibility of League 1 and League 2 restarting with the Highland and Lowland leagues remaining in cold storage.

If that were to happen and the Highland and Lowland seasons could not be finished, it could throw up the possibility of the pyramid play-offs not taking place – for the second successive season.

Talks are ongoing about how this season’s Scottish Cup can be completed, with 12 second-round ties still outstanding – including Peterhead’s against Stenhousemuir.

Peterhead are currently in cold storage. Picture by Kenny Elrick

With seven Highland League clubs still in the Scottish Cup, McInally believes it is important they are factored in.

The Balmoor manager said: “I’ve read that there is going to be talks about the Scottish Cup.

“It seems to be a case of at this stage not knowing whether it can be squeezed in quickly or alternatively, whether it would need to be carried over.

“The League 1 and League 2 working group have been trying to get us restarted again.

“The working group is only working for League 1 and League 2 teams and we still have Highland League sides left in the Scottish Cup.

“When it comes to the lower leagues restarting, I think we need the Highland League and Lowland League to restart as well to keep things going for the pyramid, otherwise it’ll turn into chaos again at the end of the season.

“And it’s the same with the Scottish Cup being played, because there are Highland League sides in it.

“Unless the SFA and SPFL factor in the Highland League and Lowland League into the restarting plans, then the Scottish Cup will be in big trouble.”

When it comes to the Scottish Cup, McInally is also fearful of a situation arising where this season’s competition was restarted with the Highland League clubs no longer in it.

Highland League sides, like Fraserburgh, are still in the Scottish Cup. Picture by Chris Sumner

Scotland’s longest-serving manager added: “It would be a sad day for the competition if something happened and the Highland League sides weren’t in it.

“I worry about these things because I think we’ve seen with things that have happened before the contempt the authorities have for the smaller teams and they only think about the big teams and the money.

“I feel with what’s happened that we’ve already been let down (by the SFA) in League 1 and in League 2.

“I don’t think they’d think twice about letting the Highland League down as well.

“I like to try to be fair and I think for us to restart without the Highland League and Lowland League would be a shambles.”

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