On the face of it, there doesn’t appear to be any likelihood of the newly formed West Of Scotland Football League coming under starter’s orders any time soon. 

Battle lines have been drawn up for some time after a necessary revamp of the initial set-up by the league's interim management reduced the somewhat onerous requirement for member clubs (Premier Division) to play 38 league fixtures down to a more workable 28 by way of a defined split built around the finishing places of teams in last season’s SJFA run West Region.

The new proposal for two groups of 10 (see below) was warmly embraced and would see clubs having to play each other in the traditional home and away fashion in a Phase 1 before a further 10 games (five home/five away) against the alternative group’s clubs with the luck of the draw ordaining home advantage.

Group A
Auchinleck Talbot
Glenafton Athletic
Irvine Meadow XI
Kilbirnie Ladeside
Largs Thistle
Kirkintilloch Rob Roy
Bonnyton Thistle
Blantyre Victoria

Group B
Kilwinning Rangers
Beith Juniors
Hurlford United
Cumnock Juniors
Rutherglen Glencairn
Cumbernauld United

Similar splits were put in place for the three Conference Divisions Leagues, encompassing another 47 clubs existing below the Premier top tier and the promotion/relegation situation prevailed which will see all three Conference top dogs going up while no fewer than seven Premier outfits will suffer a fall from grace.

Conference A
Group 1
Shotts Bon Accord
Craigmark Burntonians
Irvine Victoria
Forth Wanderers
Maybole Juniors
Glasgow University

Group 2
Whitletts Victoria
Bellshill Athletic
Johnstone Burgh
Muirkirk Juniors
Saltcoats Victoria
Lugar Boswell Thistle

Conference B
Group 1
Cambuslang Rangers
Carluke Rovers
Kello Rovers
Thorniewood United
Annbank United
St Cadoc’s

Group 2
Dalry Thistle
Port Glasgow
Greenock Juniors
Royal Albert
Newmains United
Ardeer Thistle

Conference C
Group 1
Ardrossan Winton Rovers
Larkhall Thistle
Yoker Athletic
Vale of Clyde

Group 2
Kilsyth Rangers
St. Roch’s
Lanark United
Glasgow Perthshire
East Kilbride Thistle
Vale of Leven
St. Anthony’s
Drumchapel United

Interim WOSFL bosses must have breathed a sigh of relief in coming up with a seemingly acceptable resolution to the thorny issue of fitting games into this coronavirus-curtailed season and they recently rubber-stamped Saturday 10th October for hostilities to resume, however their best-laid plans have been unceremoniously kicked into the long grass following a recent poll of member clubs revealing 70% of their number do not favour a return to playing action without supporters being present.

The not unforeseen outcome has seen the WOSFL proposed start date put back two weeks to October 24th however one cannot envisage First Minister Nicola Sturgeon condoning a return of football fans to the terracing slopes, socially distant or otherwise, against the backdrop of coronavirus case numbers continuing to rise and if anything, further lockdown restrictions could be imminent.

SportTimes colleague Matthew Lindsay’s informative report of Monday hinted at the problems faced by the likes of Senior outfits Cowdenbeath and Stranraer in attempting to survive without gate receipts but this financial pain is even more acutely felt by former Junior clubs where sales of pies and Bovril are crucially taken into account when plans for matchday income are put in place.

This stance by member clubs is all the more understandable given many players have previously agreed not to be paid their contracts until the season officially starts therefore a potential double-whammy beckons should the powers-that-be ordain that games must go ahead regardless. 

For sure, something has to be resolved sooner rather than later because further delays would leave the WOSFL struggling to fulfil its planned fixture list even before taking into account a run of winter weather enforced postponements.

Vastly seasoned Kilbirnie Ladeside manager Martin Ferry, who assumed the Valefield hotseat during the summer months after six years as Renfrew co-boss, believes spectators should now receive the thumbs-up albeit with tight constraints.

He insisted: ”The reasoning defies belief when fans can come together in bars within the town which have limited space for social distancing yet cannot do so 200-300 yards along the road on our wide open terracings.

”We made a number of new signings and one of the factors in getting them on board was the prospect of playing in front of the Kilbirnie support, whose backing is up there with the best in the game but up to now we have been denied the chance to unveil them which is a crying shame.”

Ladeside’s extensive list of new arrivals are headed up by ex-Partick Thistle midfielder Martin McBride, ex-Clydebank and Pollok ace Liam Rowan as well as Danny Bamford (Port Glasgow), Alan Frizzell (Greenock), Lewis Kinnaird (Rob Roy), Andy Strachan (Troon), Greg Vernon (Darvel) and the quintet of Stephen Horseburgh, Kieran McCrum, Ross Gilmour, Jim Whiteford and teenage prospect Kyle Girvan (St Mirren).