BURNTISLAND Shipyard will make the step up to semi-professional football next season after making a successful application to join the East of Scotland League.
The Recreation Park club was accepted into the East of Scotland set-up at the association’s AGM last week, and will compete in next season’s First Division alongside the likes of Gala Fairydean, Coldstream and Eyemouth United.
The ‘Shippy’ have been playing amateur football in Fife since 1959, most recently in the Kingdom Caledonian League, where they finished last season in sixth place.
However, the committee decided a move was necessary in order to safeguard the club’s status as a full member of the Scottish Football Association – a title which ensures them of a place in the Scottish Cup each season.
Andrew Beveridge, club secretary, explained: “We were visited by the club licensing department of the SFA last September and told that our facilities were not up to scratch.
“They were impressed with the way the club was run and structured but indicated that we should be moving to a higher standard in order to receive grants to improve our facilities.
“The club wants to keep its SFA membership and although there was no direct threat made to remove that, reading between the lines we decided it was time to move and the East of Scotland League was the obvious choice.
“It’s a new chapter for the club and we’re looking forward to it.”
Billy Whitehead will continue as team manager, and will be tasked with improving the squad over the summer.
“We’ll have to strengthen the squad and the manager is under no illusions about that,” Mr Beveridge added.
“We’re speaking to some players at the moment – and looking to bring in some younger players as well.
“The East of Scotland League can be a good breeding ground for players who haven’t made the grade at senior clubs.
“We can offer a second chance to young players who have been released from the likes of Dunfermline Athletic and Raith Rovers.
“There are some big, well-established clubs in the East of Scotland set-up like Spartans and Whitehill Welfare who regularly do well in the Scottish Cup.
“We’ll be using that as a carrot to try and attract the best local players to the Shipyard.”
Burntisland begin their first East of Scotland campaign on August 4 when the Qualifying League Cup gets under way.