Third division: Peterhead play trump card

One of the unexpected stories of the summer occurred at the end of June when the chairman of recently-relegated Peterhead, Rodger Morrison, went public to advise fans that American business magnate Donald Trump was not set to become a major backer of the Balmoor club.

News that a new sponsorship deal was to be revealed, hot on the heels of the club signing the much-sought-after Rory McAllister, left, from under the noses of full-time clubs in England and Scotland, had led to talk of a dream partnership that would take the club back up. With Trump building his 750 million golf resort at nearby Menie it seemed a logical conclusion until Morrison shot the tale down in flames, and announced that Aberdeen-based company Bon-Accord Glass were in fact the club's new sponsors. While the story has gone away, the vibrancy has remained and manager John Sheran's side are promotion favourites.

However the former Montrose and Cove Rangers boss doesn't expect an easy ride. He said: "It will be a tough season in a league that is tough to get out of. It will be a few weeks before you will be able to tell whether Peterhead or any of the other nine teams in the league will challenge."

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Sheran guided Cove to the Highland League title in 2008 and 2009 before taking time away from football to develop his business, but he was enticed back in April.

Peterhead dispensed with the services of Aberdeen great Neale Cooper as relegation loomed. "We were several points adrift and the players were really low on confidence," said Sheran. "You hope you can make a difference in the short term but it never really happened so we just got on with things."

Sheran knows his way around the fourth tier of Scottish football. "I was assistant manager to Kevin Drinkell at Montrose and then manager there for three seasons," he said. "A few of the players from my time at Links Park are still dotted about the leagues but I cannot wait for this season to start so I can start seeing some new faces."

Alloa, who were also relegated, have shown matching ambition with the appointment of Paul Hartley to his first managerial position, though Sheran plays down talk of a two-horse race. He said: "Both Alloa and ourselves have strong squads on paper but Queen's Park have kept the majority of their players that had a strong second half to last season. Montrose had added strength, as have Berwick Rangers and Annan, whereas Elgin were very impressive when they beat Ross County. No club is just going to turn up and win the Third Division."