Only a matter of weeks have elapsed since contemplations about the start of the inaugural WOSFL season left one excited and concluding that a fair sprinkling of title contenders could emerge to fly the flag for the artistes formerly known as the Juniors and compete via the end of season play-offs for a coveted place in the Lowland League (but only if licensed of course).

The quest to be ahead of leading lights Auchinleck Talbot next May had stimulated bouts of frenetic transfer market activity from the likes of Pollok, Darvel, Clydebank and Glenafton while the summer months also saw clear evidence of infrastructure strengthening at Hurlford United, Kilwinning Rangers, and Beith.

Hopes were high of the game being on the cusp of a new era but sadly, today, there is not one contender for whom a case can be realistically made out after the sixth tier of Scottish football was plummeted into Covid-influenced disarray by nine member clubs - Arthurlie, Ardrossan Winton Rovers, Whitletts Vics, Kilbirnie Ladeside, Glasgow’s big pair Petershill and Pollok as well as the East Ayrshire triumvate of Auchinleck, Cumnock and Glenafton - opting to withdraw from the 2020/21 league season.

They were afforded this choice in an initial vote by all clubs, without fear of any penalty, financial or otherwise, by WOSFL’s interim management whose further declaration stating there would be no promotion and relegation between the three Tier Seven Conference Divisions and the Premier has rendered the next seven months of league fixtures as next to meaningless in the eyes of most participants.

It should be said the distinct possibility remains of gaining promotion to the Lowland League for whosoever eventually emerges atop the Tier Six pile however it’s doubtful if any of the still standing 15 WOSFL clubs are currently geared to meet the strict membership criteria of the Lowland set up.

Initially there were only eight withdrawals but 2017 Scottish Junior Cup winners Glenafton's  name was added to the band after club officials issued the statement: "It is with regret that the committee of Glenafton Athletic announce our withdrawal from participation in the 2020/2021 West of Scotland Football League.

"We have carefully considered all of the information and options we have at our disposal, and have arrived at our decision based on the following:

"Our club members and supporters are quite simply the life blood of our club. We rely heavily on match day income such as hospitality, catering and weekly draws. Current Government legislation, prohibits us from allowing any members, supporters or sponsors into the ground. With the COVID 19 situation unlikely to change for some time, it would be financially unsustainable for the club to continue to operate without having the aforementioned income streams.

"With a drastically reduced projected income, we feel that that to play under these conditions would financially cripple the club which could potentially raise doubts over our future existence. Quite simply this is not a risk we are willing to take, and as such we feel we have no other viable option than to withdraw from this season’s league championship.

"We hope that everyone associated with the club understands our decision and can acknowledge that this was not taken lightly. We do however,feel that this is the only viable option for Glenafton at this time. We would like to place on record our thanks to all fans, sponsors and members for their continued support of the club through this difficult time. We look forward to returning whenever circumstances allow."

The New Cumnock-based outfit’s stance did not sit easily with their successful and long-standing manager Craig McEwan, who has tendered his resignation following 10 years at the helm.

Last night he insisted: "Look, I’m first to admit the club is bigger than any individual, so our officials deciding to protect the long-term future of Glenafton is fine by me, however I had spoken to our playing squad and 99 per cent of them were willing to play without being paid their contracted wages so finances were never going to be an issue.

"The club had voted to get back playing and my backroom team of Pottsy (Graham Potter), Billy Peacock and Physio Michelle McInness had worked our socks off to get the team in shape and prepared for the challenges in front of us.

"Entering the WOSFL had us excited so to have it all taken away in one fell swoop was bitterly, bitterly disappointing and I just could not stomach the prospect of sitting idle over the next seven months.

Southy added: "I have been phoning the players to let them know my feelings first hand and there has been a mixed bag of emotions as you might understand however Glenafton as a club will now have to deal with several of the guys wanting to be released in order to keep playing."

By way of contrast, Pollok gaffer Murdie MacKinnon fully endorsed the Southside club’s  decision to take a season out.

He said: "Our playing squad, to a man, would have played for nothing but an overriding concern was the fact so many of them are self-employed in their day jobs so all it takes is one player to have Covid symptoms and everyone has to self-isolate for 14 days and incur two weeks without an income.

"Everyone wants to be back playing football, myself included, but to risk people’s livelihoods and even more importantly the lives, of them and their families is not something we should ever be contemplating.

“As someone famously said 'It’s only a game'."

On the transfer front comes word of Rossvale’s full-back David Leadbetter moving to Cumbernauld United while the resignation of St Anthony's team manager John Kelly has led to the Govan club installing former striker Danny Taylor at the McKenna Park helm where he will be assisted by another ex-Ants stalwart, Mark McCuish.