Celtic and Rangers 'invited to enter colt teams in Lowland League'

Celtic and Rangers have opened talks with Lowland League chiefs to discuss entering teams in the division next term.

Celtic and Rangers' Under-20s compete in the City of Glasgow Cup final. The new plans could see both teams playing in the Lowland League next season

The SLFL has extended an invitation to the Glasgow clubs to enter ‘B’ teams in the league on a one-season deal.

Negotiations are at an early stage but a statement from the Lowland League said that the arrangement could help “solve the gap which exists in the player development pathway in Scotland, helping some of the countries best young players for a year, and also bringing significant benefit to the Lowland League and our clubs”.

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Talks are expected to continue over the coming days but discussions so far have been productive, with Celtic and Rangers and the SLFL in agreement that player development and the importance of the pyramid must be priorities for the Scottish game.

SLFL clubs will be asked to vote on the proposal in the future with all current members consulted beforehand.

Lowland League chairman George Fraser said: “It is clear from the discussions we have had that both Celtic and Rangers are looking for a league to put their ‘B’ teams into where they can develop as players.

"It is was absolutely clear to me that there is a major gap in the player pathway which would, if not addressed, impact a generation of our best young talent.

"That is why the Lowland League has identified an opportunity, and is open to embracing positive change which will have massive benefit for our own clubs and league but also for the wider Scottish game.

“Over the last few years the Lowland League has proved to be a well-run professional league and both these clubs feel their teams and players will develop by being part of it, while for us we will be able to generate new revenues and shine a spotlight on the aspirational and ambitious clubs we have within our ranks.

"As always, league integrity and the importance of the pyramid will be paramount and this will be unaffected by this plan and this was also a priority for both Rangers and Celtic who fully respect this.

“We will continue to have discussions with various parties over the next week or so and see how they progress. Hopefully this will result in an exciting outcome which is a clear demonstration of the Lowland League leading the way in how to modernise our football structures for the benefit of all.”

Celtic and Rangers had been keen to strike a deal that would allow their Under-21 sides to compete in League Two from the start of the 2021/22 season. Both clubs had also offered a combined £3 million to be shared out among teams in the bottom two tiers amid plans to restructure the leagues to a 12-12-10-10 system.

However, the proposal would only be put to a vote if there was support from other top-flight clubs and with an 11-1 majority required, and clubs including Hearts and Hibs reportedly expressing reservations about the plans, the Lowland League talks may be a workable alternative.

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