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Scottish FA confirm Project Brave elite academy list

The new structure is in place to improve the standard of players produced in Scotland.

Reform: Malky Mackay, left, is looking to improve player development.
Reform: Malky Mackay, left, is looking to improve player development. SNS Group

The Scottish FA has released further details of its plans to reshape youth player development as part of its Project Brave strategy.

Aberdeen, Celtic, Hamilton, Hearts, Hibernian, Kilmarnock, Motherwell and Rangers have all been accepted as elite clubs, with two lower tiers for clubs who did not meet the entry criteria.

The governing body has grouped other clubs into progressive and performance categories as it maps out the structure for all age group football up to under-18 level for the start of the 2018/19 season.

Ayr United, Dundee United, Forth Valley, Inverness Caledonian Thistle, Partick Thistle, Ross County, St Mirren and St Johnstone are all placed at progressive level with Dundee, Fife, Morton and Queen's Park at performance level.

Elite clubs will play each other three times a season and play performance level clubs once.

Clubs were graded on a range of criteria including staffing and facilities, with measurable performance outcomes also taken into account.

The top tier clubs will continue to receive funding from the governing body with additional funding for reaching the objectives.

Clubs outwith the highest level will still receive some funding to continue their development work.

Scottish FA performance director Malky Mackay said: "This is a significant milestone for Project Brave. 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. From day one this has been a collaborative activity.

"The clubs have been engaged at every step, with daily dialogue to help with their applications.

"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."

'No door is closed to clubs outside of the elite bracket with aspirations to move up.'
Malky Mackay

He added: "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.

"As a result of the conversations we had with clubs, a new middle tier was created. The progressive category was designed to ensure 'smaller' but ambitious clubs with academies could find their natural place in the system, with scope to push on.

"For those in the top tier, we will continue to monitor their work in conjunction with our independent auditors. This is only one more step but we believe it's a crucial one."

Mackay has been tasked with improving the development of elite players and implementing a radical overhaul of professional youth structure and funding.

The plan will cut the number of funded elite players from around 3000 to nearer 1000 as well as targeting the funding for academies.

The governing body's strategy has proved controversial, with some clubs concerned at the expense required to meet the eligibility criteria for elite academies.

Clubs are expected to have a minimum number of full-time coaches, have long-term planning in place and will be measured on outcomes such as number of academy players in their first team, number on loan and level of success.

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