(picture, Sky Sports)
The new Scottish FA Performance Director Malky Mackay has outlined plans to increase the standards of players in youth academies throughout Scotland, as Project Brave, the Scottish FA’s development plan, begins to come into effect.
One of the biggest proposals is to reduce the number of elite academies across the Scotland, with the target being to reduce the current total of 29 down to 16. The number of elite players is also a concern, with Mackay aiming to take the total number down from just under 3000 to just over 1000 players. Some clubs may lose their elite status as a result of the proposal, as Mackay aims to maintain the very best standards.
Speaking to Sky Sports News, Mackay said: “The 19-21 year olds, that where we are finding a problem. The elite youngsters are not getting enough football, they are not getting the chance to become prepared enough to become Scotland players, and first-team players for their club. I think that’s something that everybody has highlighted, and it is about how we fix that.”
He added: ““The markers that clubs are having is ‘how many first team players have come through their club, how many have gone out on loan, and how many have become Scottish internationals?’”
Other plans that Mackay wishes to implement is the return of reserve leagues within Scottish football, a league which has been defunct within the country since 2009. Amongst this, the former Cardiff City manager proposes the introduction of Fustal throughout Scotland during the winter months.
Mackay also spoke about the number of Scottish players currently playing first-team players in the country, and believes we could start to see the numbers improve: “In England last weekend, 30% of players in the Premier League last weekend were English, in a country of 60 million, and that’s how few English players were playing. A lot of countries have had various times in their history where they have struggled with this, we have also done that, and I think we have come out of the other side.
“We still have to strive to make our youngers players better, and get them playing competitive football against eachother at a high level.”
Mackay was speaking at schools throughout Scotland, as he outlined the plan to numerous young players around the country. The message is clear; keeping the very best players playing at the highest level possible, against the best opponents possible.