THOMAS COURTS says he is open to the possibility of Kelty Hearts leaving junior football but insists they won't make any rash decisions.
Earlier this month, we told you that the Super League leaders were exploring the option of leaving the Scottish Junior Football Association (SJFA) structure behind in favour of the pyramid system towards the senior leagues.
Both Kelty and Bo'ness United were considering their positions, with the carrot of guaranteed entry into the senior Scottish Cup for clubs who hold an SFA licence – which those playing in the East of Scotland or Lowland leagues do – every season as big an attraction as trying to battle their way into the SPFL set-up.
With the exception of Linlithgow Rose, only junior clubs in the East region that win the Super League, or the Junior Cup, gain entry to the senior tournament as they do not hold an SFA licence and, under new guidelines, teams that wish to have one have to commit to the pyramid structure.
Kelty said that they would be "exploring all the opportunities available to the club", and Courts commented: "I am 100 per cent behind the club's aspirations but we need to focus on matters on the pitch. The club are looking at different models and, as long as the sustainability of the club is there, I'd be happy.
"I think a shake-up is required at the lower levels of junior football. When it was regionalised, teams like Crossgates, for example, had the likes of Glenrothes, Kelty and Hill of Beath coming, and could attract local talent. That's not as much the case now so I think that while there's a smaller percentage at the top level who are quite aspirational, there needs to be a model in place to protect these clubs.
"There is an appetite for progressing the club but they're not looking to make any rash decisions. I've communicated with the players both in writing and verbally but the club will be assessing all their options. They need to do what's right for the club but I want to focus on the job in hand. We've got some big games coming up."
Hearts are top of the Super League with four matches to go ahead of this weekend's game with Bo'ness United, but closest challengers Bonnyrigg Rose have played eight gamers fewer.
The club, who said they'd update fans and the community with any developments at the end of the season, had previously stated: "It is no secret that Kelty Hearts JFC have been working towards an SFA licence in the hope that when the inevitable change comes to junior football that we, as a club, are ready and prepared no matter the outcome. As a committee and custodians of the club, we wouldn’t be doing our duty to the club or the community of Kelty if we didn’t look to improve in all areas, and an SFA licence is the ultimate achievement as it recognises that a club is run correctly and that the facilities are of a high standard for the paying public.
We’re exploring all the opportunities available to the club and we will take our time investigating what is best for everyone associated with Kelty Hearts and the local community but in the meantime the focus of everyone at New Central Park is on our remaining fixtures of the 2016/17 season."