BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
Edinburgh City chairman Jim Lumsden is dreaming of crossing swords with Hearts or Hibernian after welcoming the SPFL’s contentious League Cup revamp.
The new look competition, supported by an £8 million TV deal with BT Sport, will start with in July, facilitate a winter shutdown and, for the first time ever, include the champions of the Highland and Lowland Leagues.
As reigning champions and current leaders of the Lowland League, City have reacted with delight at the prospect of being part of the festivities – if they can hold on to their crown.
The summer group phase will see one Premiership club in every section and will be regionalised “where practicable”, raising the tantalising prospect of a clash against Hearts or, if they win promotion from the Championship, Hibs.
And, while the unveiling of the competition has erupted into a row after Hearts and Motherwell complained of a lack of consultation prior to the announcement, Lumsden is thrilled with the changes.
He told Capital City Press: “Having one Premiership club in the group is a really exciting, interesting innovation from our point of view.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity for whoever is lucky enough to win the Highland and Lowland Leagues.
“If we were to get the chance to play Hearts or Hibs it would be absolutely fantastic for our club. We are proudly from Edinburgh, many of our players support Hibs and Hearts and it would be incredible for everyone involved if it came to pass.
”It is another carrot to make the Lowland league even more competitive and put even more spotlight onto the division, which can only be good. I’m still quick taken aback by the changes. We’re delighted and can’t wait to see how it all pans out.
“I can’t imagine any club in the Lowland League would not welcome these changes. Anything that helps to promote the club and rub shoulders with bigger teams is fantastic.”
Lumsden believes the SPFL’s decision to allow entry to the Lowland League clubs provides further “legitimacy” for the division after healthy showings from their clubs in the Scottish Cup and Petrofac Training Cup.
And he firmly believes the two non-league participants will relish the opportunity to test themselves against the best.
Lumsden continued: “This is like an extension to playing in the Petrofac Cup, which was a first at that time. It just gives more legitimacy for the Lowland League.
“We are on the pyramid now and are becoming more of a part of things. The Lowland League clubs want to test themselves against SPFL clubs and get used to playing at a higher tempo and a higher level.
“I certainly don’t think the participants from the Lowland League will be embarrassed in the group stage. You only need to look at East Kilbride’s progress in the Scottish Cup to see there are good sides down here.”
However, Lumsden knows his side have plenty of work to do if they are to be a part of the competition.
He added: “Hopefully, we’ll be involved, but we know how tough that will be. The Lowland League is very competitive and is difficult to win once – let alone twice in a row.”