East Kilbride Thistle fans are calling for the club to take a year out of football to get their house in order.
The Showpark side have been in disarray since May when a fire ravaged the Thistle Social Club and the football team were relegated.
And with the club struggling to make ends meet – the temporary committee are dipping into their pockets to keep the club going – and the Jags staring at another relegation, some Jags fans believe the only way for Thistle to ensure their survival is to suspend their membership of the Scottish Junior Football Association for one year to allow the club to plan for the future.
It would not be without precedent as teams like Baillieston and Forfar West End have taken the chance and started over at the bottom.
However, the view is not universally shared by Thistle’s hardcore support – of which there are around just 12 members – who fear the club may never return.
Jags fan Ian Ashwood, however, said there are a number of fans who think a break would do Thistle a whole lot of good.
Ian said: “The way it would work is we would take a suspended membership for a year and then we would come back in at the bottom tier of the Junior leagues.
“Barring a miracle, we are going to be relegated to the very bottom league at the end of the season anyway, so we will not be losing our league position if we take a year out.
“That is my own personal view and there are certainly a few others in the hardcore support who share it.
“We need to bring someone in with Junior experience as well. The temporary committee are doing their best but they are trying to sort out everything at once.
“Suspending the membership would give us time to sort things without having to worry about getting a team together to play every Saturday.”
Ian admitted, though, that some of his fellow fans had their concerns about the idea.
He added: “The main concern from some of the fans is that we would lose momentum and people might stop going to games.
“But at the Larkhall game last week there was just the 12 of us anyway and the rest of the crowd was made up of away fans, so I don’t see how there’s a group of fans for the club to lose.
“My main worry is that we could fold because there’s not enough money coming through and we won’t be able to fulfil our fixtures for the rest of the season.
“Time is pushing on and a decision would need to be made in the coming months but I don’t know if the club would go for it.”
However, EK Thistle’s acting chairman Jimmy Stewart believes a move like that would be the end of Thistle.
He said: “The only reason we are here is to play football, so if we take our team off the park I think that would be the death of the club.
“We have been made aware of this idea before by some of the fans but we believe if we are not playing football, there will be no fans coming through the gate for a year and people will lose interest.”
Tom Johnston, secretary of the Scottish Junior Football Association, has said any official request from Thistle to take a year out would be looked on “sympathetically” and would likely be granted.
He said: “Many teams have done this in the past –for financial reasons or because of a lack of players – and if that’s what Thistle wanted to do, we would look at that request sympathetically and nine times out of 10 we would grant it.
“Teams like Baillieston and Forfar West End have done it and come back. Stonehouse also did it but 18 months after they came back they folded, so sometimes it works for teams and sometimes it doesn’t.
“You find that if teams go beyond the year out, they tend not to come back again.”
● Has East Kilbride given up on Thistle? See Pages 74 and 75.