BEITH Juniors have confirmed they will NOT be able to play for promotion into the Lowland League.

It comes as the Garnock Valley side edge closer to winning the West of Scotland Football League (WoSFL) Premier Division.

If Chris Strain's side win two of their final five matches this season, they will all but secure title glory.

The issue has arisen as the club does not have an SFA club licence - and will not have one in time to compete in the promotion play-offs.

Clubs can only enter the Lowland League if they have a full Scottish FA licence.

The winners of the league should enter into round-robin a play-off with the winners of both the South and East of Scotland Football Leagues.

Now it appears that only East of Scotland champions-elect Linlithgow Rose and South of Scotland hopefuls Creetown - who themselves are yet to obtain a full licence - will battle it out for promotion to tier five of Scottish football.

And while the decision of Beith not to pursue a route to obtaining their licence and compete for promotion may come as a surprise to some of their own supporters, and many neutrals, the club has issued a statement in a bid to explain its position.

According to the statement, issued via social media on Monday evening, the club had not even been able to submit an application in the first place.

A spokesperson said: "The first reason that we are unable to obtain a licence at this moment in time is that the SFA, in their own words, took the decision towards the end of last year to pause membership applications pending a review of the application process.

"The information that we have been given is  that applications will open again in the autumn."

The obstacles, however, run much deeper than that.

The statement explains: "With regards to the club's situation - our stumbling block is the ownership of Bellsdale Park.

"Since the current office bearers took position, we have been in discussions with North Ayrshire Council (NAC), who have been our landlords for decades, over a community asset transfer of Bellsdale.

"These discussions also involve, long term, taking over Beith Astroturf - involving Beith Trust.

"NAC have been very keen for us to takeover Bellsdale, however, following around two years of very slow dialogue, we were informed in late February 2023 that NAC do not actually own Bellsdale and that is in fact owned by a historical trust set up in 1920 - and that the last living member passed away in 1971.

"At this present time we are continuing to pursue taking over ownership of the ground, and hope to have this resolved sooner rather than later.

"Without ownership, NAC have stated that we cannot apply for planning permission for floodlights - we have we already have the designs in place ready to submit as soon as we are able to.

"Floodlights are a main item required for licencing, therefore even if the SFA board were accepting applications, the ground ownership issue would still get in the way of us obtaining a club licence.

"The club's position is that we are doing everything that we can behind the scenes to resolve all of the issues which we face, and obtain our licence at the first opportunity that we are able to.

"We have been engaging with the SFA for the past couple of years and know exactly what is required for us to meet a minimum of entry level."

They added that the club has shown ambition to progress, and that the ground ownership and licence issues are ones that are outwith their control.

The spokesperson added: "We have spent a lot of funds over the past three years or so on new dressing rooms and disabled toilet facilities.

"We have approximately 90 per cent of the required policies etc drafted up ready to be put online in due course once completed in full and checked.

"Works will begin within the next few weeks to install the new power cables required for floodlights - this involves Scottish Power Energy Networks running a new underground cable from a nearby substation and to bellsdale at a cost of circa £11,000.

"Works will also be carried out following our last home match of the season to install a disabled viewing area."

The club's committee added that they hoped the statement would clear up all confusion.

Beith's next action on the pitch is against Troon at Bellsdale on Saturday, April 22 (KO 2pm).