Not the right time for Rangers colts plan says club chairman

Ross County’s Roy MacGregor likes the 14-14-18 proposal but says it should be shelved for now

Ross County chairman Roy McGregor says he is an advocate of colts teams. Picture: Alan Harvey/SNS
Ross County chairman Roy McGregor says he is an advocate of colts teams. Picture: Alan Harvey/SNS

Ross County chairman Roy MacGregor says the difficulties inherent in restarting football in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic means now is not the time to consider the radical redrawing of the Scottish senior game set out in a blueprint from Rangers.

The plan is a fresh attempt to introduce Celtic and Rangers “colt” teams in the lowest tier, with a 14-14-18 league set-up being pushed for adoption in the coming season which would create an expanded third tier that would include B sides from the Glasgow clubs, as well as Brora Rangers and Kelty Hearts, the champions of the Highland and Lowland leagues.

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In the proposals, Celtic and Rangers would pay a £125,000 “joining fee”, with further, reduced, payments to be made in each of the following three campaigns. The money would go to clubs in the bottom tier and add up to £1.2 million. Other Premiership clubs would be allowed to create strategic partnerships with third-tier
sides, allowing them to loan these clubs six players and a coach. Alternatively, Premiership teams could enter B teams in the Lowland and Highland leagues. All colt teams could be promoted only as high as the second tier.

The proposals have received a mixed response. And though MacGregor believes they have considerable merit, he thinks any reconstruction plans must be shelved for the immediate future with so many hurdles to overcome for the 2020-21 campaign to begin in August, as targeted.

“Making decisions at a time when there is stress in an industry is not clever,” he said on BBC Radio Scotland yesterday. “It might be the right document but my focus is getting my players in next week, making them safe and preparing them to play football if allowed on 1 August.

“That is a big ask for football clubs. I think to try and take a look at something else when we have been through it once or twice will take time. It’s a medium-term project. This needs to soak and it needs to be right for the full 42 clubs.

“I think it has some really good things, the development of players is there. Everyone needs a wee bit more time. We are going to get a fixture out in three weeks’ time, we can’t go back to this situation.

“I have always been a fan of the colts teams if they can afford it. I would like to know what my brothers in the part-time teams thought of the principle. But the principle of developing players and getting them to play competitive football with men is really positive.

“We have had an under-18 team and a reserve team and we haven’t had the benefit of getting youngsters playing with men. Getting younger players in and sharing them round the Scottish scene, the principle seems right. It’s just too early to do it this season.”

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