Fraserburgh chairman Finlay Noble is pleased the Scottish FA have given all Highland League clubs the opportunity to compete in this season’s Scottish Cup.
With the fixture calendar for 2020-21 campaign already congested, there had been talk of the number of sides in the Scottish Cup being reduced with the potential for Highland League teams to miss out.
However, this is not the case, with last season’s champions Brora Rangers and the Broch, who finished second, entering the competition in the first round on Boxing Day and the division’s other 15 clubs joining in the second preliminary round on December 12.
Bellslea chief Noble, who is also a member of the SFA’s Professional Game Board, said: “It’s good news, being part of the Professional Game Board I was confident that they would come up with something that would allow all the member clubs to get into the cup if they wanted to do so.
“There is the caveat that, if you don’t feel you can comply, you would still receive the money for the round you normally come in at.
“That’s a good thing and good on the SFA for doing that. They don’t always get a lot of credit when it’s due and they get stick when it isn’t due, but they deserve a lot of credit for getting the Scottish Cup up and running.
“The Scottish Cup is important for clubs financially.
“We all saw what happened a couple of years ago with ourselves, a couple of good results and a bit of luck of the draw and all of a sudden you’ve got a tie against Rangers.
“That is the potential for clubs at our level. You don’t necessarily need to be brilliant in every game and the cup can take you to places you didn’t think was possible and the finances come along with that.
“The Scottish Cup is the premier competition in Scotland as far as the SFA is concerned and it is the one competition where Highland League clubs have the potential to bring in a lot of money.
“It’s not just financial, it’s the exposure for clubs and for the town as well.”
To compete in this term’s Scottish Cup, clubs will need to comply with Covid-19 protocols, which include providing changing facilities for both teams and match officials which allow for social distancing.
Noble added: “I do think everyone needs to be aware there is no leeway for getting into the cup if you can’t have the changing facilities socially distanced.
“That doesn’t have to be dressing rooms, it can be part of the hospitality suite or a hall across the road.
“But clubs won’t get away with entering and then be found to be short of what is required.
“That wouldn’t look good and the SFA wouldn’t be encouraging that and there would be a penalty if that happened.
“I think it might stop some clubs entering and it would be very foolhardy if someone was to gamble and enter in the hope of getting an away tie.
“If they then got a home tie and were found out and had to say they were unable to comply it wouldn’t be good.
“While it’s great the Scottish Cup is up and running, everyone will need to be 100% sure they can comply with whatever regulations are in place at that time.”