CLIVE’S NEWSLETTER – MARCH 2021

Club Chairman Donly McLeod and Secretary Clive Wolstenhome

    Strathspey Thistle FC – March 2021

March 2The SFA (Scottish Football Association) is waiting for a ‘final decision’ from the Scottish Government on when the divisions below the Championship can restart. Part-time professional football below the second tier, including SPFL, Leagues One and Two, the Highland and Lowland Leagues and the top two tiers of the domestic women’s game, have been on hold since January 12.

March 3. First minister Nicola Sturgeon has given the go-ahead for the bottom two tiers and SWPL 1 to return, with players to be tested before games. “We hope to be back playing games within a couple of weeks,” said Stenhousemuir Chairman Iain McMenemy. We will have to wait a little longer before we know if our season will start or be cancelled.   

The club are pleased to announce that local lad mid-fielder James McShane has agreed a contract extension until June 30 2022. James has been with the club since 2010. He was a youth player at Inverness Caledonian Thistle.

15. James McShane

The Scottish FA Board has announced that the Scottish Cup is to resume on Tuesday March 23 including the clubs from the Highland League. The Cup Final will be held at Hampden Park on Saturday May 22 and will bring down the curtain on the 2020/2021 season. The competition will see the introduction of concussion substitutes on a trial basis, following approval by the Scottish FA Board and FIFA. The Highland League teams left in the cup are Brora, Nairn, Keith, Huntly, Fraserburgh, Formartine and Buckie.

March 5. Huntly boss Allan Hale feels Highland League clubs have been “backed into a corner” over the return of the Scottish Cup. The seven Highland League clubs were given little notification, according to Hale, of the proposed March 23 return, when the outstanding second round ties are due to be played. He feels the cost of the three rounds of Covid-19 testing required to take part in the competition will be higher than estimated. Huntly play Dumbarton on March 23. Thanks to The Press and Journal for this story.

A meeting of the League Management Committee has been called for Thursday March 11 to discuss what is going on between the Scottish Government and the Scottish Football Association with regard to SHFL clubs taking part in the Scottish Cup, covid-19 testing and costs and if there is a chance to complete the season or call it a day and move on. Should be an interesting evening.

March 11. No update on a date to re-start the Highland League from the Scottish Government so the wait goes on.

March 12. In today’s Press and Journal an interview with Highland League secretary Rod Houston. 

March 13. An update from Donate-a-Ticket is a reminder that it is a year since Scottish football closed down.

March 16. Article published onBBC Football website by Brian McLauchlin indicating that Rangers and Celtic could be entering B teams in the Scottish league division 2 next season. 2 teams from the Highland and Lowland Leagues could also be joining league 2. 

Highland League secretary Rod Houston admits it is ‘difficult’ to see a restart at this stage, but says nothing has been ruled out. Clubs in Leagues One and Two are set to resume on March 20 having agreed to carry out coronavirus testing on their players and staff. The seven Highland League clubs left in the Scottish Cup have also agreed to do this to participate in the competition, however to resume the league campaign carrying on with testing would place too big a financial burden on clubs. Testing remains the central issue and until that gets resolved which would make it less of a financial commitment then it’s difficult to see a restart. Thanks to Press and Journal for the story.   

March 23.  What a wonderful evening for Highland League clubs in the second round of the Scottish Cup with victories for Brora Rangers over Championship leaders Hearts at Dudgeon Park and Formartine United winning on penalties over Annan Athletic of League 2. Buckie Thistle came very close to taking Inverness Caley Thistle to extra time but went down 3-2 to a Daniel Mackay winner in the 86th minute. On April 3 in the third round Brora take on Stranraer, Fraserburgh play Montrose and Formartine play Premiership club Motherwell.  

March 252,500 pay-per-view customers watched the game between Brora and Hearts on Tuesday.

March 29.  At tonight’s meeting of the Highland League Management Committee  it was decided to call a halt to season 2020/2021 because it could not see a viable way to finish it in a reasonable time. The hope is that this decision will allow preparations for season 2021/2022 to go ahead and provide circumstances for a return to more normal activity. Brora Rangers were declared champion club for season 2020/2021. Brora have been put forward as the SHFL’s nominated club for the SHFL.SLFL/SPFL play-offs. They will play Kelty Hearts from the Lowland League home and away and the winners will play the bottom club from league 2 Team (42). 

March 30.   The following players are contracted to the club for season 2021/2022. Ashley Ballam, Kieran Chalmers, Adam Crichton,  Joe Cuthbert, Martin Duncan, Roddy Kennedy, Cameron Lisle, Michael MacCallum, Andrew MacLean, Liam McDade, and James McShane. Craig MacKenzie has signed until June 2023.

Donate-a-ticket have been fundraising for 12 months and have raised £319,878.00 for 131 UK clubs and so far £779 for Strathspey. It remains open for the time being so please consider donating a ticket to STFC.

Chris Race

March 31. Chris Race announced his resignation from the club’s management committee. He has contributed to the clubs’ establishment in the Highland League and we appreciate his efforts helping the club to where it is now. 

The club website had 371(287) views during March. Twitter 1196(1174) followers and Facebook 1551(1551). Brackets are February figures.                              

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