VALE of Leithen general manager Bobbie Craigie believes that pyramid system has affected the Innerleithen club’s status in the game.

The introduction of the system, which allows non-league clubs the chance to gain entry to the SPFL, has seen several former junior clubs with much larger budgets than Vale’s join the East of Scotland League and progress via the Lowland League.

Vale were relegated from the Lowland League last season and look likely to suffer the same fate this year from the EoS Premier Division.

But following a disastrous year for the club, Craigie is now looking forward to 2023 with some optimism following the appointment of Joe Murray as manager.

He said: “This past year has confirmed that like previous seasons the new pyramid system has affected clubs like the Vale who cannot compete financially with the bigger clubs, especially the juniors one who have joined the system.

“2022 started with Grant Sanderson in charge and although there was initially improvement the Vale stayed in the bottom position until Grant departed in the March.

“Mikey Wilson was quickly installed as the new manager for the rest of the season. However, the inevitable happened when the Vale’s tenure as a Lowland League team ended after nine years and they were relegated to the East of Scotland Premier.

“Preparation for the new season started well, with Mikey bringing in a new batch of players, however for the first few months the club was crippled by a horrendous injury crisis which they never recovered from.

“Despite various attempts to recruit new players, the club found it difficult attract players, with numerous bids accepted but the players deciding to go elsewhere.

“Unfortunately, similarly to the Lowland League the task of competing with most of the clubs in the Premier is hampered by the financial restrictions of a club like the Vale.

“Mikey left the position in October and the club appointed his coach Joe Murray as interim manager.

“At the end of December the committee decided to offer him the job permanently which he accepted.

“Although, the results still need to improve the performance of the team on the pitch has shown signs of improvement and with some of the players coming back from injury and a few new players onboard, the committee are hopeful that playing side of the club under Joe will gain some momentum in 2023.”

Weather permitting Vale will start the year off with a home game against Crossgates on Saturday.