Rangers have confirmed they have achieved elite status as part of the new Project Brave initiative. Designed to drastically improve the flow of talent to first-team level and Scotland’s full international set-up, reports at the weekend stated that 8 clubs have achieved this status to lead the new initiative with Celtic, Aberdeen, Motherwell, Hamilton, Kilmarnock, Hearts and Hibs joining us.

Firstly I am all for any initiatives that are designed to improve our game and the quality of player coming through. A bit like Rangers removing ourselves from the under 20 league I think it is good to step away from something that hasn’t been working and we need to be open to trying new things.

The elite status is a good achievement and the main changes with project brave appear to be centred around new age groups, alternating fixtures to let stand out players play at an age above when ready and summer football for age 11 – 16 which is a big one I think.

A concerning factor is about what is involved in achieving elite status and what this means elsewhere. Do we need 5 elite clubs within the west of Scotland? What does this mean for the rest of the country? Why do so many of the academies in the west of Scotland in and around Glasgow meet the criteria but elsewhere they do not? Whilst Hamilton for example have produced some good talent in recent years, I can’t believe they have an academy with better facilities than Dundee United.

Also, I am beginning to wonder if we are approaching it the right way. I saw last night that the Scotland under 17s qualified for the elite round of the Euros for the 5th consecutive time. On the previous 4 times we have made the tournament proper and only 3 years ago made the semi final.

Maybe the issue isn’t at youth level? Maybe actually the academies are doing the right thing with the youth players but it is when they transition in to the senior game we have more of a problem. If you look at the under 17 team that made the semi finals only 3 players from the entire squad are playing first team football regularly in a top flight – the rest are all either in the Scottish or English lower divisions or still in the second string at their clubs. None of those 3 have been close to a full national call up, and only have 4 under 21 caps between them.

If you compare this to other squads from that tournament England have 8 players playing in the top flight with 2 going on to get full caps or Holland and Portugal where there are 6 playing in their top leagues regularly and a couple now in the full national team. Maybe the problem for us isn’t developing young players of the same quality but more in getting them to the first team from that stage and allowing them to continue their progress and we are looking in the wrong place with changes.

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