KELTY HEARTS have confirmed that they have been accepted into the East of Scotland League and will leave the juniors next season.

Press Sport reported last week that the newly crowned Super League champions were on the verge of making the step into the pyramid system that provides a route into the Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL).

And the club say that their ultimate ambition is to find a route into the senior leagues where, if achieved, they would join close neighbours the Pars and Cowdenbeath.

We reported in April that Kelty, whose title triumph was their second in three seasons, were working towards attaining an SFA licence, benefits of which include automatic entry into the senior Scottish Cup.

They believe that a move, and the opportunity to try and reach the senior leagues, matches their ambitions and that other junior clubs – including championship runners-up Bonnyrigg Rose and Bo'ness United – are considering following the same path.

While they said it was a decision made with a "heavy heart", Kelty released a statement last Thursday to confirm their place in the East of Scotland League.

They commented: "After careful consideration and months of research we have all agreed the next step for Kelty Hearts FC was to work towards being an SFA licensed club and to become SFA members. One of the stipulations before the application was accepted by the SFA board is that we had to sign a declaration to join the pyramid system at tier six, which is the East of Scotland League.

"We can officially announce that Kelty Hearts Football Club were tonight (Thursday) accepted into the East of Scotland league for next season 17/18. We are delighted to be welcomed by the East of Scotland board and fellow competing clubs, and can't wait to get started in tier six of Scottish football.

"We had our first audit by SFA licensing on Friday May 26 with a decision being made by the SFA in August. We have a little bit of work to do to achieve the licence but we are fully confident and well underway of this being completed for August.

"The move to hopefully become SFA members and to compete in the East of Scotland League next season excites all at the club enormously with an ambition to move up the tier, with the ultimate goal for us to be an SFA member club playing in the SPFL.

"At present we feel that the East of Scotland, South of Scotland and the Lowland League will be more appealing for non-league clubs in the not so distant future, with more looking to improve on and off the pitch by becoming SFA members and to be part of the pyramid system, which can only be good for Scottish football at all levels."

After forming in 1975 as an amateur side, Kelty were accepted into the Fife region of the Scottish Junior Football Association five years later and went on to become Fife champions six times.

As well as winning this season's Super League, which followed their 2014/15 triumph, the club also reached the Junior Cup final in 1999 and 2007, losing both to Kilwinning Rangers and Linlithgow Rose.

The club added: "We would like to thank everyone at the SJFA (Scottish Junior Football Association) over the last 37 years; office bearers, volunteers, sponsors, visiting supporters, ex and current committees, managers and players from all other member clubs.

"It's been a great journey and it was a long deliberated decision but, with a heavy heart, we had to do what was best for the community and the football club at this present time.

"From all at Kelty Hearts we thank you all for your hospitality, banter and competitiveness over the years. A new chapter begins for Kelty Hearts Football Club."