The Scottish Football Association has confirmed club placings within its new Project Brave academy structure.
Clubs were placed in three categories: Elite, Progressive or Performance, with applicants graded on a criteria-based system and an assessment of Measurable Performance Outcomes.
The aim of the rejigged academy structure is to optimise playing opportunities as well as turning the focus onto talent development, with the Scottish FA hoping to work with all clubs to improve the standard of young footballers in Scotland in a bid to enhance the game and boost the playing pool for the Scottish national team.
Eight clubs were awarded elite status: Celtic, Rangers, Hibs, Hearts, Aberdeen, Kilmarnock, Hamilton and Motherwell.
Progressive status was awarded to Ayr United, Dundee United, Inverness Caledonian Thistle, Partick Thistle, Ross County, St Mirren, St Johnstone and Forth Valley (comprising Falkirk, Stenhousemuir and East Stirlingshire).
Performance status was granted to Dundee, Greenock Morton, St Mirren and Fife (comprising Cowdenbeath, Dunfermline Athletic, East Fife and Raith Rovers).
St Mirren and Dundee United, both confirmed they could not afford to apply for a place in the elite bracket while Ross County and Morton’s positions in the second and third tiers may be subject to appeal.
Scottish FA’s Performance Director Malky Mackay said the announcement was a ‘significant milestone’ for Project Brave, adding: “Club Academy Scotland is a fundamental part of the process and a lot of work has gone into developing the criteria used to assess the clubs.
“We have been heartened and inspired by so many of the positive things we have seen in regards to the development of young Scottish footballers and our aim is to assist clubs and encourage them to hit the highest possible standards.
“What I would like to stress is that the bandings are not fixed and they will be reassessed in June 2018. No door is closed to clubs outside of the Elite bracket with aspirations to move up.”