LOTTERY winners Colin and Christine Weir have handed another £500,000 to Partick Thistle to secure the long-term future of the club’s youth set-up.
The couple, who became the UK’s biggest lottery winners when they scooped £161 million in 2011, gave the club a cheque for £750,000 shortly after their EuroMillions success to set up the Thistle Weir Youth Academy (TWYA).
Now they have donated another lump sum to ensure the project can continue for another five years.
It comes just six months after it was confirmed the Largs pair, along with director Billy Allan, also helped to wipe out Jags’ £1.5million bank debt.
The TWYA has already born fruit, with three academy players graduating into Alan Archibald’s first team.
Thistle chairman David Beattie said: “The development across the Thistle Weir Youth Academy in recent years has been nothing short of phenomenal. Youth development is a massive part of the club’s long-term future and is something that the club sees as essential to underpinning further success.
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“Although a long-term project, we are already starting to reap the rewards from the initial investment as players break through to the first team. Huge credit has to go to Gerry Britton (academy director) and Scott Allison (head of academy coaching), along with their dedicated team, for building that infrastructure from virtually nothing.
“There’s no two ways about it, the Thistle Weir Youth Academy is absolutely massive for this club and we are grateful to Chris and Colin for this further generous donation.”
Colin Weir added: “We are delighted by what the academy has achieved to date. Gerry and his team have made impressive progress in a relatively short time, so we are very happy to provide further funds to ensure the academy continues to grow.”
Former Firhill striker Britton believes the importance of the TWYA to Thistle will only grow as the years go by.
He said: “The academy funding extension is beyond our wildest dreams as an organisation and will really allow us to kick on in the coming years. You have already started seeing some of the players making their impact on the first team with Kevin Nisbet, James Penrice and Neil McLaughlin all making appearances so far.
“The number of graduates moving into the first team will only increase over the next five years or so as we really start to taste the fruits from all the hard work.”