THE Road to Hampden could begin at New Countess Park next season after Dunbar United celebrated a major milestone.

For the first time, the Seasiders will join more than 90 other clubs from across the country in the Scottish Cup after they were granted a Scottish Football Association (SFA) licence.

The approval also opens the door to the possibility of the club gaining promotion up the country’s footballing pyramid.

Stuart Robertson, club chairman, was thrilled with the announcement.

He said: “We are absolutely delighted to be in the Scottish Cup and it will be a big boost in the coming weeks to sign a squad for the upcoming season and, hopefully, an improved league finish.

“Being in the Scottish Cup will increase the budget to try to make that a reality.”

Next season’s Scottish Cup could feature more than 100 sides, with Dunbar United joining Tranent Juniors and Haddington Athletic, who made impressive debuts in the competition this season, and Preston Athletic in the opening draws.

Hopes are also high that Musselburgh Athletic, who are hoping to secure their SFA licence after enjoying victory in their first time in the tournament, could bring the total number of East Lothian clubs in the Scottish Cup up to five.

Mr Robertson said that seeing the other county teams playing in the competition had given Dunbar an extra incentive to ensure they would join them in the cup.

It has been a season like no other for clubs up and down the country, with many playing all their games behind closed doors.

Dunbar have been without their fans and the club was sitting in 14th spot in the top flight of the East of Scotland Football League when the campaign was halted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Plenty of work has gone on behind the scenes to ensure the SFA rubberstamped the paperwork for the licence, with improvements to facilities for the players, officials and spectators all being carried out.

Mr Robertson told Courier Sport: “If you go back to August last year, I don’t think we met any of the requirements.

“We thought it was probably an unrealistic expectation to get the licence at the first time of asking.

“Our project was not up and running until August or September and we had to meet the criteria by the end of January.

“In a way, lockdown helped us as there was very little else to focus on.

“We’ve just had so much support from the community, who are really keen to see the club progress as well.

“I think fans will get a nice surprise when they come back and see how fantastic the ground is looking.

“In my opinion, it has always been the best facility in the region and that made it easier for us to get the licence in a short period of time.”