Fitzy: No change at youth academy

Saints boss al­lays fears over Project Brave

Paisley Daily Express - - The Neil Deal - Craig Ritchie

Tony Fitz­patrick in­sists St Mir­ren’s youth set-up will not be af­fected by the SFA’s Project Brave blue­print.

It was re­ported over the week­end that the Pais­ley side will not be in­volved at the Elite level of the pro­gramme – de­spite hav­ing four academy grad­u­ates among the 22 play­ers start­ing for Scot­land at full and un­der-21 level over the week­end.

In­stead, St Mir­ren will head up the sec­ond tier of the new youth sys­tem, ti­tled Per­for­mance Pro­gres­sive. They are set to be joined by Falkirk, and top flight out­fits Partick This­tle, Ross County, Dundee and St John­stone at that level.

The pro­posal was greeted with out­cry from some sec­tions of sup­port, how­ever, Fitz­patrick has moved to ease fears that it could have a neg­a­tive af­fect on the Bud­dies’ cur­rent set-up.

Fitz­patrick said: “St Mir­ren have proven time and time again that they pro­duce tal­ent and we are proud of that fact. The fact that we are not in­cluded among the Elite level clubs doesn’t change that. The Academy will con­tinue to work how it does cur­rently. This doesn’t re­sult in a cut in fund­ing or any­thing like that. The eas­i­est way to de­scribe it is that sim­ply, noth­ing will change.

“For us to go to elite level, we would have had to em­ploy an ex­tra five mem­bers of staff, which is a big out­lay for any Cham­pi­onship club.

“What we will do is strive for the Elite level in the years to come. But first, if we are be­ing re­al­is­tic, we would have to es­tab­lish our­selves as a top flight side af­ter gain­ing pro­mo­tion. We are all for try­ing to hit the elite level mark – we are al­ready prov­ing we are among the best sides at de­vel­op­ing play­ers as it is.

“Just look at the Scot­land sides, at all lev­els, over the past week. You had Academy grad­u­ates Kenny McLean and John McGinn in the first team. Lewis Mor­gan, Kyle Ma­gen­nis and Ste­vie Mal­lan were all in the 21s, and then you have Ben Cameron and Ethan Erharon in the younger sides.”

The pro­posed shake-up of youth foot­ball has caused some fric­tion be­tween clubs and the SFA due to the costs in­volved in meet­ing the new stan­dards and cri­te­ria needed to be recog­nised at each level.

A num­ber of clubs out­side the top flight have been un­able to meet the fees re­quired ahead of the plan get­ting un­der way, which is sched­uled to be Jan­uary.

How­ever, Fitz­patrick in­sists he un­der­stands the rea­sons be­hind the move to­wards the new sys­tem – but is adamant that it won’t change the hard work be­ing done at St Mir­ren’s own academy.

He added: “We con­tinue to play at a good level, just below the Elite level, and that it is some­thing we are happy about. We feel as a club that we have an elite academy and noth­ing like this is go­ing to de­ter the hard work done by Al­lan McManus and his staff.

“As a club we have got to look at the big pic­ture. First and fore­most we want to be play­ing at the high­est level. We be­lieve that our academy is a suc­cess story in it­self, with a num­ber of our play­ers play­ing across a num­ber of age groups and the first team.

“It is im­por­tant to stress that we will con­tinue to strive for the very best.”

Re­as­sur­ance Fitz­patrick

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.