HEARTS will join Rangers and Celtic in next season’s Lowland League after a vote to include three guest clubs was approved at a meeting last night Monday June 6 2022.

Lowland League clubs initially voted against the inclusion of a third guest club for the 2022/23 campaign after Hearts applied to join the Glasgow giants in the competition.

But the three clubs returned with an improved financial proposition and an ultimatum that all three clubs should be admitted or none at all.

The positive vote was eventually passed last night so there will be a 19-team league for one season only with a 36-game fixture calendar.

Peeblesshire News: Gala Fairydean Rovers in action against Rangers B last season Gala Fairydean Rovers in action against Rangers B last season

It was agreed that the three clubs must field seven players eligible for Scotland national teams in their starting line-up, while they will provide funding to help develop the Lowland League and its clubs.

They are not allowed to compete in the end-of-season promotion play-offs if they win the division.

Lowland League chairman Thomas Brown reckons the presence of the three clubs will help make the division more “modern and progressive”.

“We were always open to the inclusion of guest clubs for a further season given the successful player development outcomes from last year’s pilot,” he said.

“We want to be a modern and progressive league and we are excited to be playing our part in the eco system that develops Scotland’s talent.

“Importantly, we now look forward to working with the Scottish FA, the SPFL and our friends in the pyramid to create some new solutions to some existing challenges which will provide a bright future at all levels of our game.”

Peeblesshire News: gala Fairydean Rovers in action against Celtic last seasongala Fairydean Rovers in action against Celtic last season

Scottish Football Association chief executive Ian Maxwell believes the country’s top clubs fielding youngsters in the Lowland League will aid player development.

“The Scottish FA supports the principle of elite player development and particularly providing opportunities for talented players in the key transition years from 17 to 21,” he said.

“The Scottish FA will oversee a discussion in parallel to propose and implement a long-term plan with the objectives of optimising the pyramid, which has been a resounding success in Scottish football, harnessing the player pathway and accelerating the development of the country’s most talented young players through the national youth teams to the full international stage.”

Scottish Professional Football League chief executive Neil Doncaster welcomed the “joined-up and collaborative approach” involved in the decision to admit the three clubs.

“There are few more exciting things in football than watching the development of home-grown talent and it’s extremely encouraging that the Lowland League has agreed to assist our clubs on a temporary basis for season 2022/23,” he said.