Neil Cooper and Mark Cowie have expressed their disappointment at having to take part in a play-off to get into next season’s Challenge Cup.
The recent introduction of English National League sides Sutton United and Boreham Wood means the SPFL have re-jigged the format of next term’s Irn-Bru Cup.
For the past two seasons four sides from the Highland and Lowland leagues have entered the competition.
But with the invitation of two new teams, third and fourth in the Highland and Lowland Leagues have to play in a preliminary round to reach the first round.
That means Inverurie Locos (third last term) and Fraserburgh (fourth) will face each other at Harlaw Park early in the new season to see who reaches the first round.
Entry into the Irn-Bru Cup for Highland League sides is on an invitational basis from the SPFL and the league body can change the invitations if it so chooses.
But the frustration for Locos gaffer Cooper and Broch boss Cowie is the timing of the decision.
The announcement was only made on June 8, after teams in the Highland and Lowland leagues had completed their seasons believing that a third or fourth place finish would be good enough to gain entry into the first round.
Cooper said: “Yes, we are disappointed because at the start of the season we were told that it was the top four who qualified for the Irn-Bru Cup.
“There’s nothing we can do about it, but at the start of the season if the English sides were going to be coming in you could have had it that only the top three qualified.
“There shouldn’t be a play-off to get into the first round of the cup.
“I don’t think this would happen at a higher level, but we just have to get on with it.”
Cowie said: “I’ve nothing against the English teams coming in and it’s good in a sense that we can broaden our horizons by playing against teams from other areas of the UK.
“But at the start of the season we were told that the top four in the Highland League would get into this cup.
“So our goal at the start of the season was to get top four because we’ve never played in his cup before and we wanted to play in it.
“For me it’s fine to bring in the English teams, but if it started next season it would have made teams aware. I don’t know why the teams couldn’t have been introduced next season so everyone knew.
“That could have meant places went to the top three in the Highland League which would have been fine.
“But we’re privileged to be invited and there is no point moaning about it, we just have to make sure we prepare for it as well as we can and try to progress past Inverurie.”
The SPFL declined to comment.