Rangers’ Colt proposals appear to be winning support from Premiership clubs but, further down the ladder, it is being less well-received as lower league chairmen speak out against – albeit using spurious reasoning to back their position.
The plans were always likely to receive some opposition but one of the main areas of contention seems to be the lower divisions turned into development competitions and devaluing them.
Elgin City’s Graham Tatters would prefer the status quo remain and insists his club is left paralysed by the constant debate over reconstruction, calling the whole thing “tedious.”
“It really is getting tedious now,” he told BBC Radio Scotland’s Sportsound.
“We are just going round and round the houses. Every time something goes wrong, someone comes up with another one, then another one.
“We have sat for five different Zoom meetings trying to put a budget together. We can’t do anything at the moment because we haven’t got a clue what’s going on.
“We put our statement into Neil Doncaster to say where we stand and the Rangers one doesn’t make any difference to us. It’s just total instability.
“We want to get somewhere so we know what’s going on so we can start planning. We just want to get back to some sort of stability which for us is status quo.”
Another League Two chairman admits he has an open mind to the proposals but is worried the addition of Colts will somehow “cheapen” the league.
“In the last couple of years when Colt teams have come up I have been against Colt teams and I have been quite vocal in that,” Stenhousemuir chairman Iain McMenemy, speaking to PLZ Soccer.
. “In terms of this proposal, I am keeping an open mind to it. I think there is a lot in there that’s good and innovative.
“There’s a lot of faults we know exist in Scottish football in terms of the progression of talent and so many things we need to tackle. There are things in there that would help do that.
“But there is also an issue in the lower leagues in that our Saturdays are just as important to us as a Saturday involving Celtic, Rangers, Hibs or Hearts. We all get up, go to our local team, get behind the team, we celebrate, we commiserate.
There is a concern that we cheapen our Saturday, cheapen our league, if it becomes a league that’s all about development.
“So there is still a bit of work to be done to convince a lot of clubs in the lower leagues, ourselves included.”
Some form of Colt teams is used in almost every major European league and the idea that the Spanish, Dutch or Italian leagues are in any way ‘cheapened’ by them allowing B, ‘Jong’ or under-23 sides is ridiculous.
It wouldn’t be unfair to suggest that on any given weekend last season, most games in Leagues 1 and 2 featured at least one young player – probably several – on loan from Premiership and Championship clubs.
Nobody ever complains at loans ‘cheapening’ leagues when players can go from Rangers and Celtic to the lower reaches of Scottish football for a fraction of their normal wages.
Colts is far from the silver bullet for Scottish football’s problems but it is time that clubs seriously looked at things that can be done to improve the game in the short and long-term across the board.
Playing against Stenhousemuir and Elgin isn’t going to turn youngsters into the next Leo Messi but it could just be what is needed to help young players take the leap from being a success at youth level to being a star at senior level.
After watching the status quo in Scotland comprehensively fail time and time again for the last 30 years, it’s time to try something different and following the lead of some of the world leaders in youth development isn’t a bad place to start.