North-east-based Highland League clubs have said it will be “disappointing” if the number of teams who gain entry to the Scottish Cup is more than halved.
Due to the upheaval caused by the Covid-19 crisis, the SFA wants to cut the number of teams in the national trophy from 112 to 52, which would mean the 42 SPFL clubs plus 10 clubs drawn from other licensed outfits.
As a result, several Highland clubs could miss out on the revenue and prestige the Scottish Cup offers.
It is understood a ballot would be used to decide eight of the 10 clubs who would gain entry, which would be drawn from the Highland League, Lowland League and various semi-professional leagues around the country, while Highland kings Brora Rangers and Lowland champions Kelty Hearts would get the other two spots.
“It would be extremely disappointing if there’s clubs that don’t get a crack at it,” said Allan Hale, the Huntly manager.
“I still think there would be enough dates to fulfil a full Scottish Cup programme.
“The opportunity should be there for all clubs to participate.
“Clubs like ourselves aspire to get into round three or four, where you’re coming up against bigger teams.
“We want to experience those moments and the Scottish Cup provides that.”
Formartine United have a good cup pedigree and their manager Paul Lawson was part of the Ross County side who reached the final of the competition in 2010.
“The Scottish Cup is a big thing for teams at our level,” he said.
“If you can do well it’s a great source of income for the club and it’s great for the players if you can manage to reach the third or fourth round. Playing against higher placed teams in the country is the aim for the players and for the club it’s a boost financially.
“I’ll obviously be disappointed if we miss out, but at the same time it’s understandable why they are doing it.
“Things are going to be different in terms of our league set-up, as well as the cup competitions. We will have to get on with it – as long as we are back playing I think we will be happy.”