Scottish Daily Mail
OUT OF ORDER
Ibrox Colt claims are ‘inaccurate’, insists SFA chief
SFA president Rod Petrie last night accused Rangers managing director Stewart Robertson of making ‘inaccurate’ claims over plans to admit Old Firm Colt teams to the Lowland League.
As Sportsmail first reported, Robertson headed a sub-group responsible for preparing a paper on Celtic and Rangers B teams and improving youth development earlier this year.
Frustrated by a lack of progress, however, the Ibrox chief accused the SFA and SPFL of failing to distribute full details to clubs.
Robertson told Rangers TV: ‘We wanted it to be implemented next year, but that paper has still not gone to the clubs.
‘Despite us trying to make it an SFA and an SPFL idea, rather than a Rangers and Celtic idea, it’s still not been given to the clubs. You need to ask the SFA and the SPFL why.’
Contradicting that claim, Petrie insists the champions hosted a meeting in April when agreement was reached to delay the proposals due to a lack of support from clubs.
In a statement released last night, he said: ‘The Scottish FA seeks to clarify inaccuracies contained in an interview undertaken by Rangers managing director, Stewart Robertson, on the subject of the proposed introduction of B teams.
‘While the Scottish FA is supportive of any innovation that enhances the prospect of elite talent development, ultimately a decision on the introduction of B teams would need to be taken under the auspices of the SPFL rules relating to league competitions.
‘At a virtual meeting on April 9, hosted by Stewart and including a representative from Celtic FC, the
SPFL and Scottish FA, there was general consensus on the call that given the adverse publicity and temperature among clubs, the proposal was unlikely to garner the support of enough clubs to enable the SPFL rule change to progress further. It was therefore agreed by both Stewart, on behalf of Rangers, and Celtic’s representative that pausing any detail being distributed to clubs would give the proposals the best chance of success. ‘To repeat, the introduction of B teams as part of the innovation paper would require an SPFL vote, and after a season in which clubs have had to contend with the ongoing impact of Covid-19, a rushed decision would likely end in failure. ‘It was unanimously agreed by the group, including Stewart, that the distribution of any paper should take place once the 2020-21 season has ended, to give clubs an opportunity to fully consider the potential benefits without the pressures of implications of a season impacted by Covid-19. ‘We are therefore surprised that Stewart is quoted on Rangers TV saying “the biggest frustration is that (the) paper has still never gone to the clubs. You’d need to ask Scottish FA and SPFL why”. ‘This agreement also came with the additional recommendation that any discussion on improving elite talent development would require the support of all SPFL members, not least those clubs in the lower leagues who would require to accommodate any B teams. ‘The perception that this paper would be to the benefit of two clubs in particular would likely present a challenge to those leading on the innovation paper and in any final vote.’ Rangers and Celtic are now willing to pay £25k each to enter B teams in the Lowland League on a one-off basis next season. Clubs from Scotland’s fifth tier will meet on Monday night to discuss and vote on the issue.
Addressing further comments from Rangers on the ‘lack of transition pathway for our young players’, Petrie defended the SFA’s record. ‘It should be noted that the Scottish FA has, over many years, worked with clubs to establish the optimum model for elite talent development and transition,’ he said. ‘This has included removal of the reserve league, creation of an Under-20 league, creation of an Under21 league and then re-establishment of a reserve league, which was cancelled at the request of the clubs due to the challenges faced by Covid-19. These have all been done in conjunction with the SFA’s Performance Department.’