Renfrew and Johnstone Burgh were among the clubs outvoted as almost two-thirds of junior sides indicated they were in favour of setting up a pathway to the senior ranks.

After years of resisting any proposal to join the SPFL, a majority of members of the Scottish Junior Football Association [SJFA] voted in favour of joining the pyramid system.

With just four clubs failing to take part in the ballot, 99 voted yes with 55 against the move, which Renfrew’s secretary Alan McGraw claimed “would be too much” for the club financially.

He said: “The reason we voted against joining is we just got a new ground built a couple of years ago and it does not fit the criteria.

“It would cost a lot of money getting seats in it and we thought it was a lot of travelling, so we would need to get more buses. From a financial point of view it would be too much for us.”

“Obviously if that is what’s going to happen and the road we are going down then we need to just go with it and get guidance from the juniors.

“We are not that disappointed, we thought the vote would be closer than it was. The teams all have their own agendas.”

Two further options were offered to clubs in the questionnaire, either to seek entry at tier five, at the same level as the Highland League and Lowland League, or at the bottom, tier six, on the same layer as the East of Scotland and South of Scotland Leagues.

Burgh’s secretary Ricky Cantwell said: “It’s totally unacceptable. There is the financial aspect as well, but a lot do not have any grounds whatsoever. All junior clubs have enclosed grounds, it’s part of the criteria. A lot of these teams do not even have their own parks.

“We have our own dressing rooms, toilets, but half of these teams have none of that.

“Until all the grounds are all enclosed, as far as I am aware a few clubs have not got these facilities and until that’s addressed I do not see a way forward.

“Another thing is being asked is floodlights, which cost in the region of a six figure sum, and there is no funding for it.

The proposal is still in its early stages following the vote, but Cantwell remains deeply sceptical over whether joining the pyramid will happen.

He added: “It’s a non-starter, I don’t see it ever happening in the near future. For the life of me I can’t see it having legs.”

Much will depend on the number of clubs meeting the SFA’s licensing standards, with only 15 respondents indicating they meet “entry level” criteria and 139 admitting they fall short.

The SJFA association secretary Tom Johnston said: “A questionnaire was posted out to the clubs at the end of January/and the beginning of February following a series of discussions with the leagues and with the SFA.

“It asked the clubs if they wished to join the pyramid system and we now have the results.

“I have written to Andrew McKinlay to make him aware of the vote and expect to meet with him when he comes back from Hungary. The next step will be for us to have an EGM and to seek the SFA’s views.

“The clubs have considered the option and some clearly see the opportunities that may become available to them in the pyramid.”