At a venue that is as famous for its hosting of stock-car racing as football it was the proverbial car crash of an interview.

Hard as it was not to feel sympathy for John Sheran, manager of Cove Rangers, after the controversial way in which access to the SPFL had been denied at Cowdenbeath’s Central Park, his post-match insinuations that the Scottish football establishment was somehow conspiring to block teams from the Highland League was never going to be taken seriously.

His side had certainly been extremely hard done by in competitive terms. They had been much the better of the two teams during a first half in which they had recovered from the loss of an early penalty to claim a lead by the interval and while a poorly defended free-kick had levelled the scores, the winner could not have been tougher to take, Cove’s goalkeeper appearing to have been illegally waylaid on his return to his penalty area after leaving it to make a clearance, leaving Brad Smith with an empty net at which to take aim.

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“I don’t know if they don’t like teams from the Highlands,” was Sheran’s dubious assertion and while, in geographic and historic terms it is perhaps a bit pedantic to point out that Cove’s home city of Aberdeen is on the lowland side of what was traditionally considered ‘the Highland line’, the reality is that teams from the Highland League have not had too much to complain about in the last quarter of a century or so.

Not everyone relishes a mid-winter trip to Dingwall admittedly, but the addition of Ross County, Inverness Caledonian Thistle, Peterhead and Elgin City to Scotland’s senior football leagues during that period has only enhanced the sport’s position as the national game, not least when compared with the recent retreat of its strongest challenger, rugby union, into its traditional heartlands when the teams making up its new semi-professional ‘Super Six’ competition were unveiled.

Introducing a system to give teams from the Highland and Lowland Leagues access to the SPFL through a system of play-offs means that there is no impediment to teams that are good enough to make the step up, but Saturday’s events did raise questions over the mechanism being used on two fronts.

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There can certainly be little doubt that the pressures at play when it is not merely a matter of a team dropping or gaining a division, but represents a complete change of status, was reflected in the melee that ended with only eight Cove players on the pitch, neither manager in his dug-out and home manager Gary Bollan accompanied by one of his coaches in the stands.

On one level it was all pretty ugly, but as Bollan rightly pointed out afterwards, no-one was hurt in the sort of contretemps that has been pretty much common-place in sports such as rugby and ice hockey down the years and, in any case, legislating for such emotions is nigh on impossible.

The other point had, however, been made by Highland League commentators before the match, that League Two is the only SPFL division in which the team finishing bottom is afforded the opportunity to avoid relegation. Their contention was that having won their respective competitions, it is hard enough to subject the winners of the Highland and Lowland Leagues to play-offs with one another, before subjecting them to a further two-leg knockout tie.

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There is a valid case to be made, but on balance my own view is that dropping out of the leagues altogether is a different matter from relegation between divisions and that teams seeking to replace the likes of Cowdenbeath, members of the competition for more than a century, should be made to earn the right to do so.

As to the future, there seems to be a great deal of work to be done to bring about a real revival of fortunes for Cowdenbeath who have not had their troubles to seek in recent years and have, among other things, been looking at moving out of Central Park.

By contrast, getting ready as they are to move into a new home, having achieved all that they have after spending the last three years as a nomadic club, playing home matches at Formartine United, Huntly, Keith, Lossiemouth and Banks o’ Dee, Cove’s elevation to the SPFL has surely only been postponed.