Falkirk announce plans to scrap academy to focus on promotion bid

Falkirk have announced plans to scrap their academy from the end of the year as they focus on gaining promotion back to the Ladbrokes Premiership.

General view of the Falkirk Stadium. Picture: SNS Group
General view of the Falkirk Stadium. Picture: SNS Group

After eight seasons in the Championship, the Bairns have made the decision to stop funding the Forth Valley Football Academy in order to focus their resources on achieving promotion back to the top flight.

The club announced in a statement that they have made financial losses over the previous two years and expect that to continue given their current form, which sees them languishing in ninth place in the Championship.

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Chairwoman Margaret Lang said in the statement: “The club’s recent history shows that we have spent the last eight years in the Scottish Championship. This season we have, so far, under-performed significantly.

“Over the past 10 years our business model has become more and more reliant on player sales, finishing higher than top four in the Scottish Championship and a strong run in cup competitions.

“Since the successful run to the Scottish Cup final in 2015 the club has made losses over the past two years at an operational level, even after player transfer income has been taken into account.

“This is likely to continue in the current year given how we have performed in the season so far.

“Ultimately, this model is unsustainable. If we carry on doing what we have always done, we will remain as we are presently. We recognise an absolute need to change the way we do things.

“We want to be a Premiership football club, and to achieve this, our first team needs to be our absolute focus.

“As a result of this, the decision has been taken to prioritise the use of available resources in our first team. From 31st December onwards, Falkirk Football Club will therefore cease its funding of the Forth Valley Football Academy.”

The club also announced an intention to reconsider player recruitment, with Sunderland’s Tommy Robson set to join in January.

A statement from academy read: “This has implications for the future of this academy. The board of FVFA consists of representatives of East Stirlingshire FC, Falkirk FC and Stenhousemuir FC. We will meet shortly to discuss what this means for us and what the next steps should be.

“We will be in contact with the parents of all children involved in the academy in due course.”

A Scottish FA spokesperson said: “The Scottish FA notes the course of action taken by Falkirk Football Club to withdraw funding from Forth Valley Football Academy (FVFA).

“Clearly this will have a significant impact on everyone connected to FVFA.

“We appreciate this has been a difficult decision not taken lightly by those involved with Falkirk.

“However, our overriding concern at this time is for the young footballers that could be affected by this change in strategic direction.

“With that in mind, should it be the case that players are left without a club, the Scottish FA have committed to funding and staging a showcase match to ensure as many as possible can find an alternative platform to continue their individual progression.

“In terms of any disruption to games programmes and the wider ramifications for FVFA, we will maintain regular dialogue with all parties involved to ensure the best possible outcome to an unexpected development.