Lowland league chiefs are consulting with member clubs again after Celtic, Hearts and Rangers all applied to field B teams in the division next season.
Clubs were asked last month to vote on the controversial inclusion of ‘guest clubs’ for a second year after ‘colts’ teams from both Celtic and Rangers competed in the league this term in what was initially supposed to be a one-off.
But Hearts’ decision to also throw their hat in the ring for the fifth-tier set-up has, with 19 teams, left an imbalance in numbers and resulted in the Lowland League board going back to member clubs for their thoughts.
All three Premiership outfits have agreed to pay a £40,000 bounty to be included and, just like this season, none of the teams can win promotion to the SPFL.
Last month’s ballot resulted in an 11-4 majority in favour of adding guest clubs again and it is a move which it is understood the Scottish FA is behind after assessing the development of youth internationalists who have turned out in the Lowland League this term.
A Lowland League statement read: “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.
“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.”