Celtic backed and funded Scottish football plan gains traction; SFA take next steps

By John McGinley

March 25, 2023

Plans for a new Scottish Conference League are gaining ground after no serious objections were raised during a consultation of clubs.

Celtic, Hearts, Aberdeen and Rangers are all reported to be ready to fund the formation of a new ten-team fifth-tier of Scottish football sitting below League Two in the pyramid. It will officially be outwith the remit of the SPFL, meaning that no mass club vote is required to get it up and running. However, harmony has been sought. The project is backed by the Scottish FA, who wanted to test out feelings towards the plans.

The Scottish Daily Mail [25/04 print edition, back page] now reports that no big concerns have been raised after clubs at all levels of the current pyramid were asked for their thoughts on the proposals. This means it’s all ready to progress to the next stage, with the governing body set to fine-tune the plans.

Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images

Celtic set to take part in new Scottish Conference League

The move, which will cost Celtic a six-figure fee per annum, is all in an effort to ensure there’s a more permanent pathway for players aged between 17 and 21 in Scotland to gain experience and build their ability against senior players. Currently Celtic, Rangers and Hearts all have B teams in the Scottish Lowland Football League – the current fifth tier – but that has been far from a fixed solution.

However, it is expected that B teams continue in that division while this new league is worked out and becomes official. It’s not yet clear whether the plans will be in place for the start of next season.

Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou has already spoken out in favour of the proposals, stating earlier this month: “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.”

Promotion and relegation is expected to be part of the set-up for the rest of the teams who make up the table, albeit a Celtic B side would not be gaining entry to the SPFL, much like the current scenario in the Lowland League.

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