HEARTS could join Rangers and Celtic in next season’s Lowland League.

The Edinburgh club applied for inclusion alongside the Glasgow pair however this would require a change in the current format and would mean 19-teams taking part.

The rest of the clubs have been canvassed to ‘gauge the collective appetite.’

Currently, rules only allow for the Lowland League to have 18 teams with 16 regular clubs and Old Firm colt sides making up the numbers during the last campaign.

The Scottish Lowland Football League Board say they are consulting with clubs about changing that to allow a third colt team, but stressed guest clubs would not be eligible for promotion and would not impede the ability of others to be promoted to or relegated from the division.

Both Celtic and Rangers paid a fee to the league for entering teams this season, and a sum of £40,000 for participation next term is one of the likely requirements for guest clubs.

A Lowland League statements reads: “The Scottish Lowland Football League board has canvassed the opinions of member clubs over the three guest clubs seeking inclusion in next season’s Lowland League.

“Last month, a majority of 11-4 indicated a preference for the continued involvement of guest clubs, having taken two weeks to weigh up and debate a presentation on the topic.

“A formal application process was subsequently opened, with three clubs confirming their interest and intent in joining the league.

“Cleary, the inclusion of three guest clubs would require the current format of the Lowland League to be altered, so the board has entered into a period of consultation with member clubs to gauge the collective appetite for such a move – while talks with other key stakeholders would, naturally, follow before any conclusion could be reached.

“Whatever the outcome, guest clubs will not be eligible for promotion. Nor will they hamper the ability of clubs to be promoted to or relegated from the Lowland League.”