The Scottish Lowland Football League & East of Scotland U20s is set for an expansion which will change the landscape of the top end of youth football in Scotland dramatically. The influx of Scottish Junior FA sides joining the Scottish FA pyramid in 2018/19 has filtered down to youth level and as a result twenty-eight teams are set to compete in the revamped competition.
The East of Scotland's youth setup has been around since the early noughties, before the idea of the Lowland League had even been tabled. At that point it was at the Under 19 age group and in its early years it struggled to attract teams to make the jump from juvenile football to the senior game. In the first decade of its existence it wasn't uncommon to see four or five teams competing.
However, in the last few seasons the competition has moved from strength to strength. Last season saw a record number of teams competiing, with fifteen involved from the season's outset. However that record number has been shattered by this season's expansion.
Thirteen of last season's teams will compete once again. They are: Bonnyton Thistle, BSC Glasgow, Cumbernauld Colts, Edinburgh City, Edinburgh University, Edusport Academy, Heriot-Watt University, Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale, Mid Annandale, Spartans, Stirling University, Tynecastle and Whitehill Welfare. Dropping out are Burntisland Shipyard and Selkirk.
Former champions Preston Athletic return after a year out, whereas long time senior side Gala Fairydean will be involved at this level for the first time. Last season's East of Scotland League winners at senior level, Kelty Hearts, also join the party.
The remaining twelve teams come from sides who will be playing in the East of Scotland FA for the first time: Blackburn United, Camelon Juniors, Dalkeith Thistle, Dunipace Juniors, Edinburgh United, Haddington Athletic, Hill of Beath Hawthorn, Inverkeithing Hillfield Swifts, Musselburgh Athletic, Newtongrange Star, Sauchie Juniors and Tranent Juniors.
The format will be two sections of fourteen, with the winner of each playing off (in a one off game) to determine the league champion. This will be added to by several cup competitions and the perk of competing in the Scottish Youth FA Cup. The conference sections are as follows:
Gala Fairydean Rovers
Hill of Beath Hawthorn
Inverkeithing Hillfield Swifts
Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale
Mid Annandale FC
University of Stirling