Ange Postecoglou responds to proposed SPFL restructure with Celtic benefits clear

By John McGinley

March 11, 2023

Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou understands the concerns of teams lower down the Scottish football pyramid but believes having a structure in place for youth players to play competitive football will be a benefit to their development.

Reports this week have indicated that top-flight Scottish clubs are considering putting in place a ‘Conference’ league that would sit below Scottish League Two. It would include a number of Colt or B teams and see teams from the Scottish Lowland Football League and Highland League invited to take part. Promotion to League Two for ambitious outfits would be available.

It would essentially be a new fifth-tier of the Scottish football pyramid, which has upset some teams even further down the divisions including the likes of recent Scottish Cup stand-outs Darvel because it’s an effective relegation.

Photo by Plumb Images/Leicester City FC via Getty Images

Celtic currently have a B team competing in the Lowland League but that agreement is not a long-term one and indeed was in doubt even going into this campaign. For Postecoglou, the benefits of such proposals for young players are clear.

He told The Scottish Daily Mail [11/03 print edition, page 115]: “I do think it’s important there are opportunities for the lads just below the first team to play competitive football. We have certainly benefited from the B team playing in the Lowland League. They get really good exposure.

“I think, when you look at youth development around the world, you look at Spain, Holland, Germany, Portugal, the second sides are all involved in competitions. Obviously, it’s a bit more challenging here because it’s not as big a country, but I think it helps to find places in competition for these players to aid their development.

“You can always put them out on loan, but if you can provide that level of competition for them in-house, it helps with their progression. The ones who don’t make it at our clubs will go elsewhere to play, they might filter down the pyramid anyway, but they’ll have a better understanding of the game, which will help their careers here or elsewhere.”

At this point, it seems there is enough motivation from multiple Premiership teams including Celtic to push forward with the funding for this proposal, which doesn’t need wide club voting approval due to it not being formally part of the SPFL.

If Celtic feel like it will help young players then it should be explored further. Postecoglou is clearly happy with the progress of the Lowland League experiment, with our players also exposed to tournaments such as the UEFA Youth League and the Premier League International Cup – getting a wide range of experiences and opponents.

Nothing in Scottish football is ever a given but it’ll be interesting to see how these ‘Conference league’ plans progress over the coming months, with reports indicated they could be in place for the start of next season.

In other news, Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou quietens yet another bizarre Scottish media storm.