The Scotland Highland Football League, also known as the Highland League, is one of the oldest football leagues in Scotland. Established in 1893, it is a semi-professional league consisting of 18 teams from the Scottish Highlands and Islands. The league has a rich history and has played a significant role in the development of Scottish football.

A Guide to the Highland League Format

The Highland League is one of the most competitive football leagues in Scotland, and understanding its format is key to following the action. In this article, we will provide a comprehensive guide to the league format, including the number of games played, the table system, and the rules for relegation.

Number of Games

The Highland League season spans from August to May, during which each of the 18 teams plays a total of 34 games. This ensures a grueling and exciting season, with each team facing every other team twice.

Table System

The Highland League operates on a single table system, where teams are ranked based on their points. A team is awarded three points for a win, one point for a draw, and zero points for a loss. If two or more teams end up with the same number of points, their ranking is determined by goal difference.


The team that finishes at the top of the table at the end of the season is crowned the champions of the Highland League. This is a prestigious title and often comes with a spot in the Scottish Cup, which is open to teams from all levels of Scottish football.

Relegation Just as important as the title race is the battle to avoid relegation. The team that finishes at the bottom of the table is automatically relegated to the Scottish Football League. This is a significant blow for any team, as the Scottish Football League is a lower tier competition.


The Highland League is a football league based in the North of Scotland that was established in 1893. Its first season was composed of six teams, namely Inverness Thistle, Clachnacuddin, Forres Mechanics, Inverness Union, Inverness Citadel, and Northern. Today, the Brora Rangers hold the championship title, having triumphed in the 2019-2020 season. Let’s delve deeper into the league’s fascinating history.

Challenges and Survival

Like any organization, the Highland League faced several challenges over the years. One of the most significant issues was financial difficulties. Many of the teams in the league were located in rural areas, and it was challenging to attract sponsors and generate revenue. Furthermore, the league’s remote location made it expensive to travel, which put additional strain on teams’ finances.

Another significant challenge was declining attendance. With the rise of other sports and entertainment options, football’s popularity waned in some areas, leading to dwindling crowds. However, the Highland League persevered through these challenges, with teams and fans showing immense dedication and commitment to the sport.

The League Today

The Highland League has overcome numerous challenges throughout its history and has stood the test of time. With 18 teams under its belt, the league has remained a crucial component of Scottish football. This article delves into the league’s rich history and how it has managed to thrive despite adversities.

The Present State of the Highland League

Today, the Highland League comprises 18 teams, and its popularity remains intact. It continues to attract dedicated supporters from across the region, and its matches are often well attended. The league has also introduced new initiatives to enhance its appeal, such as live streaming and sponsorship deals.

Moreover, the league has maintained its amateur status, which sets it apart from other professional leagues. This has allowed it to preserve its traditional values and community-oriented approach. The Highland League’s commitment to amateurism has also enabled it to foster young talent and provide opportunities for aspiring players.

The Future of the Highland League

The Highland League faces several challenges as it looks towards the future. One of the main concerns is financial sustainability, as the league relies heavily on gate receipts and sponsorships. It also needs to compete with larger and more established leagues for media coverage and fan support.

To address these challenges, the Highland League has taken steps to modernize its operations and expand its reach. It has embraced technology and social media to connect with fans and increase its visibility. The league has also explored the possibility of collaborating with other leagues and forming a pyramid system to promote competition and growth.

Notable Teams

The Highland League has been home to several remarkable teams throughout its history. From Inverness Caledonian Thistle to Formartine United and Brora Rangers, these teams have left a lasting impact on Scottish football. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at some of the notable teams in the Highland League and their achievements.

Inverness Caledonian Thistle – Rising to the Top

Inverness Caledonian Thistle, currently playing in the Scottish Championship, started their journey in the Highland League. The team was formed in 1994 following the merger of Inverness Thistle and Caledonian, two of the most successful clubs in the Highland League. Inverness Caledonian Thistle quickly rose to prominence and earned promotion to the Scottish Football League in 1994. The team has since become a regular fixture in Scottish football, with several appearances in the Scottish Cup final and a Scottish Cup win in 2015.

Formartine United – Cup Specialists

Formartine United has established themselves as a formidable force in the Highland League. The team, based in Pitmedden, Aberdeenshire, has won the Highland League Cup four times, with their most recent victory in 2019. Formartine United has also enjoyed success in the Scottish Cup, reaching the third round in the 2017-18 season.

Brora Rangers – A Force to be Reckoned

With Brora Rangers has emerged as one of the most dominant teams in the Highland League in recent years. The team, based in the village of Brora, has won the league five times in the last ten years, including four consecutive titles from 2014 to 2017. In addition to their success in the Highland League, Brora Rangers has also enjoyed success in the Scottish Cup, reaching the fourth round in the 2019-20 season.

Fraserburgh FC – A Historic Club Founded in 1910, Fraserburgh FC is one of the oldest teams in the Highland League. The team, based in the town of Fraserburgh, has a rich history and has enjoyed success in the Highland League, winning the league title in the 1960-61 season. Fraserburgh FC has also reached the Scottish Cup fourth round on two occasions, most recently in the 2017-18 season.

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