SPFL Development League '˜to be scrapped and Reserve League to return'

Scottish football's Reserve League is set to return from the start of next season as SPFL chiefs look to scrap the existing Development League, according to reports.

Hibs take on Inverness Caledonian Thistle in the SPL Reserve league in September 2004. Picture: TSPL

Clubs are understood to be considering a proposal to revive the reserve league set-up, which was initially scrapped in 1998, brought back in 2004, and then replaced in 2009 with the Development League.

Currently, Development League matches are contested by clubs’ Under-20s teams, with five over-age players permitted in each matchday squad of 18. Under the new proposal, the lower age limit for reserve matches would be 16.

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Should the Reserve League return, tentative plans for colt teams to join SPFL League Two would almost certainly be shelved.

Both Celtic and Rangers contacted clubs in the fourth tier earleir this season to gauge opinion and gain support for the idea. However, it was met with an angry backlash when the plans became public knowledge.

READ MORE - Back the colts or Scotland will continue to fail, says Rangers boss

Reviving the Reserve League would allow younger players to test themselves against first-team regulars, rather than just facing their own age group in Development League matches.

The new proposals would see a “premier” Reserve League, with an East League and West League sitting below the top flight, similar to the existing set-up.

And, as is the case with the Development League, clubs will be able to choose to opt out of the Reserve League.

An SPFL spokesman told the Evening Express: “Work is ongoing to identify better ways of developing players in Scotland – particularly those in the 18 to 21 age group.

“We are working closely with our member clubs and the Scottish FA and hope to be in a position to announce changes for next season in due course.”

The changes are also expected to affect the loan system and the Irn-Bru Cup, in which Scottish Premiership teams currently field an Under-20s side.

READ MORE - SPFL considers introducing colt teams into league system