SFA proposes ‘draft system’ for young players

Scotland manager Gordon Strachan hopes the SFA proposals will produce more exciting players. Picture: Rob Casey/SNS
Scotland manager Gordon Strachan hopes the SFA proposals will produce more exciting players. Picture: Rob Casey/SNS
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The SFA is to consult with clubs over a draft loan system in a bid to give more game time to young Scottish players.

One idea would be to have Premiership players put into a centralised pot then drafted to clubs in the second-tier Championship.

Such a system operates most famously in American football’s National Football League draft where the lowest-ranked NFL team gets first pick of the most promising college players.

The idea is part of the Scottish FA’s proposed Performance Strategy which was announced yesterday by performance director Brian McClair and national coach Gordon Strachan.

McClair said the plans were “simple” ideas to aid youth development of the Scottish game but have been viewed as “radical” by some, following talks involving youth team

bosses and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

The proposals include a “refinement” of the number of players in the SFA’s Club Academy Scotland and reduction of centrally-funded teams. There are currently more than 2,300 players in 30 clubs.

The SFA also announced “more provision” for the seven regional academies as well as consultation with clubs over the draft loan system.

It said a “working group will be convened to discuss the proposals in more detail and ensure collaboration between all constituent areas of the game”.

After meeting officials of the Club Academy teams plus Sturgeon and sports minister Jamie Hepburn, McClair said: “The most important thing for me is that we all agree that we need to improve and that any future plans should put the development of the young player at the heart of everything we do.

“The principle is very clear and is founded on hard work on the pitch and off it. Interestingly, when I spoke to the Professional Game Board at the end of last year to share some of the ideas, the one word that came back was ‘radical’. Sometimes the most radical changes are also the most simple.

“There is a lot of good work under way with the performance schools and with more outcome-focused investment in CAS but we need to address why our players stop developing at under-21 level and what the barriers are to playing regular football at the critical stage of development.”

Strachan said: “I am Scotland national coach but I am also a father and grandfather and I care passionately about the state of our game and the future of our game. We need to get back to producing exciting players again, players who can be relied upon to start for their clubs at an earlier age, players who will then become more experienced and better prepared for international football. We need to be honest with ourselves when it comes to assessing where we are, where we want to be and how we get there.”