The Highland League will run with 17 teams next season following a decision taken at last night’s annual general meeting in Lossiemouth.
Following Cove Rangers’ promotion to League Two through the pyramid play-offs earlier this month the clubs discussed the make-up of the league for next season.
North-east Junior Superleague champions Banks o’ Dee had looked like possible successors, but declined to submit an application.
Inverness Caley Thistle had been keen to field a colts team in the league but that option was rejected.
Highland League president Raymond Cardno said: “The decision is probably as expected.
“With Cove Rangers having such a successful season and going up to the SPFL, which we are all delighted about from their point of view, we will have a 17-team league.
“The way the regulations are, it’s not for us to go and put out invitations for people. At any time if clubs qualify through being club licensed and having floodlights etc, they can make an application at any time.
“It was a unanimous decision after a thorough debate.
“Inverness Caley Thistle did come to a meeting and put forward their case.”
Highland League secretary Rod Houston added: “Caley Thistle had approached us to consider the possibility of a colts team joining the league.
“But at the minute there are probably too many imponderables for the clubs to be comfortable with in terms of various matters which were covered to some extent in the discussions with Caley Thistle.
“I think that given the speed of events in the last month, with Cove’s elevation, the fact that Banks o’ Dee are eligible for Highland League membership by virtue of the fact that they are a Scottish FA club…The fact that they declined meant that the clubs just wanted to catch their breath.
“It would have been completely disrespectful of the Highland League champions, Lowland League champions, and club 42, for us to have done anything in advance of the outcome of the play-offs,” he added.
It’s the first time since 2009 that the league has an odd number of teams.
Between 2001 and 2009 it had 15 sides.