Scottish Daily Mail


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.’

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