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Page last updated at 14:06 GMT, Thursday, 3 July 2008 15:06 UK

Annan voted into Scottish league

SFL chief executive David Longmuir congratulates Annan chairman Henry McLelland
Longmuir praised McLelland's club

Annan Athletic have gained entry to Division Three after a vote by the 29 clubs in the Scottish Football League.

They will replace Gretna after beating off the challenge of Cove Rangers, Spartans, Preston Athletic and Edinburgh City.

Annan chairman Henry McLelland said: "It's just sunk in, but it's been a long time coming.

"We've been working for this since we played Stranraer in 1979. We have been rewarded for all our work since then."

McLelland was referring to a 3-1 Scottish Cup defeat and Annan will now join their local rivals in the SFL next season.

The vote was forced after Gretna went out of business following relegation from the Scottish Premier League.

Spartans had been bookies' favourites, but the Edinburgh outfit dropped out of the running after the second round, having amassed just six votes.

Sometime in the future there may be a system in place that allows the losing clubs to get entry into the Scottish League

Scottish FA chief executive Gordon Smith

With a minimum of 15 votes required, three rounds of voting were needed before Annan's place was confirmed.

Annan polled 17 votes in the final round, with Highland League champions Cove their closest challengers with 12 votes.

Edinburgh outfit Spartans, with a new stadium and academy on the way, had conducted the slickest media campaign.

But Annan are understood to have won the backing of all eight representatives from the SFL who toured the facilities on offer from the five applicants.

It was felt that Annan were, at present, the most capable of meeting the league's criteria, although SFL chief executive David Longmuir stressed that he was impressed with all five clubs.

Interview: Annan chairman Henry McLelland

And the side from the Dumfries and Galloway town - 16 miles from the home of First Division outfit Queen of the South - were chosen ahead of three clubs who finished ahead of them in this season's East of Scotland League.

Annan finished seventh, 19 points behind third-top Spartans, with Edinburgh City in fourth and Preston in fifth.

Champions Whitehill Welfare and second-placed Edinburgh University did not apply to the SFL.

Spartans chairman Craig Graham was disappointed and surprised by the result, saying: "We will never find out why we only got five votes in the first ballot, but there's nothing we can do."

Cove chairman Keith Moorhouse was frustrated that the club from the outskirts of Aberdeen had come so close.


"It might have been easier if we had gone out in the first round as opposed to being a close second to Annan," he said.

"Annan are probably more equipped to go in to the league today with their present set-up.

"We know we had a lot of work to do. But if people had voted in terms of the future and the vision we have for the club then we probably would have been the best bet.

"So we have a feeling that people went for the safer bet."

Scottish Football Association chief executive Gordon Smith, who has been campaigning for a pyramid system of entry to the SFL, congratulated Annan but urged the losing clubs not to lose hope.

"There were five very strong candidates to take their place," he said.

"To the other four clubs, I would say that they should continue the work that they are doing and that sometime in the future there may be a system in place that allows them to get entry into the Scottish League."

Meanwhile, Annan will play their first game as a SFL club when they visit Clyde's Broadwood Stadium in the Challenge Cup on 26 July.

see also
Annan vow not to be new Gretna
03 Jul 08 |  Scottish League
Annan ready to step up to SFL
29 Jun 08 |  Scottish League
Cove crave spot in Division Three
28 Jun 08 |  Scottish League
City slickers state case for SFL
30 Jun 08 |  Scottish League
Preston 'confident' of SFL spot
02 Jul 08 |  Scottish League
Spartans seek a shot at the SFL
01 Jul 08 |  Scottish League

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