AYRSHIRE football clubs have been left frustrated at ticket pricing rules which they say could threaten the growth of the Scottish game.

Many teams from the West of Scotland Football League took a break from league action on Saturday, October 14, with 11 clubs instead battling it out in the third round of the South Challenge Cup.

As well as clubs from the West of Scotland Football League, the tournament also features teams from the equivalents in the south and east of the country - as well as the Lowland League - meaning the rules around admission are different to those in place for league fixtures.

Many Ayrshire teams have schemes in place to provide free entry for under-16s to league matches in a bid to stimulate interest in the grassroots game.

But clubs taking part in the South Challenge Cup were informed in the run up to Saturday's third round ties that there is no such arrangement in place for the tournament. 

A change away from a system that has worked so well for getting younger generations through the door left some clubs fuming as they confirmed the changes to ticketing prices ahead of their games.

A spokesperson from Troon FC said: "Sadly, whoever makes the decisions at The South Challenge Cup have laid down a diktat that ALL spectators are to pay at games in their competition, and clubs will be disciplined if otherwise. Specifically highlighting children in their email.

"Obviously the 10 per cent share of a child’s ticket is more important to them than growing the game in Scotland."

Thankfully for Troon's young supporters, the club's players and coaching staff stepped up to the plate and intervened to ensure that kids could still go free at Portland Park as they made up the cost of under-16 tickets for the tie with Abbey Vale, which the hosts won 3-0.

Kilwinning Rangers were left frustrated at they had to adopt a different ticketing strategy to the norm for their tie at home to Hawick Royal Albert.

A Buffs spokesperson said: "We are disappointed to have been informed by the South Region Challenge Cup competitions secretary that no club is allowed to give under 16s free entry therefore we have been left with no choice but to charge the minimum accepted amount of £3 per child for today’s game."

Kilwinning won the match 4-1.

It was a decision which left some particularly frustrated on a weekend that was perfectly poised for attracting youngsters down to their local grounds, with no league matches in the SPFL because of the international break. 

One person commented: "I think this is really disappointing. With no SPFL games we should be doing all we can to encourage families to come watch our level of football but instead clubs are forced into charging entry, when they don’t normally.

"Such a poor ruling in place that should be abolished as soon as possible!"