Rangers academy boss backs plans to introduce B teams
Ibrox academy boss Craig Mulholland believes allowing the likes of Rangers and Celtic to field second-string line-ups in the lower divisions could help their young prospects bridge the gap to the first team.
Scottish Professional Football League chiefs circulated a proposal to clubs earlier this season which would see colt sides entering the bottom rung of the league pyramid - the Highland and Lowland Leagues - with the chance to work their way up to Ladbrokes League One.
Hampden chiefs were open to the possibility of the Old Firm reserve sides kicking off in senior action as soon as the upcoming new season but the plans have been met with resistance from lower-league clubs.
But Mulholland - who withdrew his Rangers youngsters from Scotland’s development set-up last year as they piloted a trial project which saw them instead take on a raft of top European clubs in a series of friendly clashes - believes the introduction of B teams is necessary if Gers’ fresh-faced talent are to avoid stagnating while they wait for a chance in Steven Gerrard’s first XI.
Mulholland told the Rangers website: “It’s been an interesting debate this one because we have been working hard and we believe that B teams are really important parts of our pathway.
“So we’ve seen our teams this year and you’ve seen the results. The 17s and 19s go and beat Europe’s top players and be every bit as competent as them technically and tactically, but we must make sure we get the transition to the first team bit right.
“So in an ideal world we would have a B team where we were exposing our players to real men’s football, three o’clock on a Saturday afternoon with Rangers supporters coming to watch them, but we’ve not quite got there with that yet. That’s still something politically that we are working on in the background.
“In the interim we will continue with our European Games Programme for part of the programme but there is also a new Reserve League as well, so the Reserve League will give us that competitive football. There will be first-team players playing in that.
“The Glasgow Cup will now move to that Reserve age group and we will also have the Challenge Cup, so what we are actually combining is the innovation of the European Games Programme we’ve had, with actually some really competitive football domestically in Scotland which, until we get to our B team concept, will hopefully give us a real good challenge for our players.”