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Page last updated at 17:36 GMT, Friday, 30 May 2008 18:36 UK

Four clubs wait for Gretna fate

Raydale Park
Gretna's future looks bleak

Four clubs are waiting in the wings to apply for membership to the Scottish Football League should Gretna go bust.

Gretna's future could become clearer on Monday, but Spartans, Annan Athletic, Preston Athletic and Cove Rangers are all preparing applications.

Spartans may be in pole position with a new SFL-compliant stadium nearly ready.

The club's general manager, Derick Rodier, said: "Our long-term aim was always to get in to the SFL, but we are not counting any chickens."

Gretna could be wound up next week after SFL chief executive David Longmuir found "fundamental flaws" in the business plan put forward by the sole interested party.

Rodier admitted preparations were "tentative" but believes the stadium, along with astroturf training facilities, gives them an edge.

We have a new 500-seater stand and concrete terracing right round the ground

Annan secretary Alan Irving

East of Scotland League rivals Annan have also notified the league of their interest in replacing neighbours Gretna.

Annan have begun to upgrade of their Galabank ground after Peterhead and Elgin beat them to the two extra places on offer in 2000.

Club secretary Alan Irving said: "We have a new 500-seater stand and concrete terracing right round the ground.

"The only stumbling block might be the floodlights, but we had planned do see to them this calendar year."

Highland League champions Cove Rangers appear to be the only club from the north preparing a bid.

And Preston Athletic, whose applications were rejected by the SFL in 2000 and 2002, when Gretna were admitted, also intend to apply.

They have been in discussions with East Lothian Council over moving to a new stadium and forming a new club that would capitalise on the area's lack of top-level football.

SFL chief Longmuir has set a deadline of early next week for a Gretna takeover to be completed.

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