St Andrews United have been guaranteed two seasons in the Super League following last week’s annual general meeting of the East Region of the Scottish Junior Football Association.
This is as a result of a proposal for league reconstruction put forward by Perth side Jeanfield Swifts being accepted by an overwhelming majority.
The East Region currently consists of five leagues - Super, Premier and three district leagues (North, Central and South).
From the end of next season, this will reduce to four leagues, each with 16 teams and the three district leagues being merged to form a North and South league. At present the Super League and Premier League contain 12 teams so, for this coming season, no team will be relegated from the top division with four being promoted from the Premier League.
There will also be no relegation from the Premier League, with two promoted from the North and Central leagues and four from the South League owing to the number of teams in the latter. The remaining 32 clubs will be split as fair as possible into two divisions of 16. The extra league games will mean an end to the unpopular early season District League Cup competition.
From season 2013/14, two teams will face the drop from the Super League with two promoted then the third bottom club will face the third top Premier League club in a two legged play off. The Premier League will, in turn, see four teams relegated with two coming up from the North and South Divisions.
These changes will bring added excitement to the top two divisions and give the lower leagues an increased chance of promotion as well as the added excitement of a play-off for a place in the top division.
St Andrews United were firmly behind the Jeanfield proposal and are seen as one of the forward thinking clubs in the region.
A club spokesman told the Citizen: “The reorganisation is exactly what the game needed.
‘‘The Super League was decided over just 20 games last season which is not enough.
‘‘It will now be over 30, which is a lot better, and the reorganisation will also give an increased boost to those lower league clubs with an extra promotion place”.
United’s status as a forward thinking club was rewarded with the election of regional delegate Lewis Rodger to the East Region Management Committee which means Saints will be at the forefront of any further changes to the Junior game in the East Region.
The first batch of fixtures for St Andrews United have been announced and are as follows:
August, Saturday the 11th - ACA Sports League Cup Kirkcaldy YM (H) 2.30pm; Wednesday 15th - ACA Sports League Cup - Jeanfield Swifts (H) 7pm; Saturday 18th - ACA Sports League Cup, Thornton Hibs (A) 2.30pm; Saturday 25th - ACA Sports League Cup, Bankfoot (A) 2.30pm; Wednesday 29th ACA Sports League Cup - semi-final (TBC) 7.
September, Saturday 1st - McBookie Super League Bonnyrigg Rose (A) 2.30pm; Saturday 8th - McBookie Super League, Kelty Hearts (A) 2.30pm; Saturday 15th - McBookie Super League Carnoustie (H) 2.30pm; Saturday 22nd - EMIRATES Scottish Junior Cup TBC
In addition, the club has arranged three pre-season friendlies so far. The first sees Inverurie Loco Works visit Recreation Park once again on July 21. This will be the third season in a row that United have played the Highland League side and have a 100 per cent record.
July 28 sees United travel to Aberdeen to face North Super League side Culter while, sandwiched in between, is a game against Dundee East Craigie but an exact date and location is still to be confirmed. Further details of pre-season fixtures will be available next week.
Tomorrow (Saturday) will see the Saints squad report back for training and next week’s Citizen will have all the news and photographs from that infamous first session back. Three players missing from the squad will be Graeme Gibb, Paul Farquharson and Darren Wilson who are moving on to pastures new but new faces will be brought in to replace them.
Manager Jim Hardie told the Citizen this week: “I am confident that, come that first fixture at Super League Champions Bonnyrigg Rose, the side will hit the ground running.
‘‘The fact that there is no relegation is a bonus but we showed last season that - on our day - we can match any side in the Super League.
‘‘We will be trying to finish as high up that table as we can”