Celtic have finally been given some lower-league backing for their joint-project with Rangers regarding colts sides in League Two.
The talking point has once again reared its head this week. It came after a report in the Scottish Sun claimed the two Glasgow clubs were looking to shell out a combined £3million to lower-league clubs over a five-year period in order to accept a proposal to get their youth sides into League Two.
In the past, it’s been absolutely slammed by lower-league figures. Peterhead boss Jim McInally recently tore into the idea only two months ago. He stated that both Celtic and Rangers were looking to “exploit” the struggling financial situation clubs are facing [Evening Express].
However, Lowland League side Caledonian Braves are the first club to have a representative come out and back the idea. Indeed, their manager Ricky Waddell thinks there’s merit in the plan, but only on the condition that it’s part of a wider discussion on league reconstruction.
“I’d be easy with that”
As quoted by the Daily Record, Waddell said: “For me, Rangers and Celtic coming in I’d be easy with that, but the whole setup would need to be looked at and the clubs at our level would be able to get promoted easier. That would be to the extent where it goes into a play-off situation in the Lowland League between the top few teams instead of what it is at the moment – which is heavily, heavily against the Lowland League and the Highland League.
“I wouldn’t be against the Colts if the system in the SPFL was going to have more ventilation up the way, so ambitious Lowland League clubs can get up into the setup.
“If teams are not good enough in League Two and finish bottom, they need to come down. That’s football, that’s sport – it has to be performance-related.
“I worked at Rangers as a youth academy coach and I recognise that young players need to develop and they need to develop in a competitive environment, so that’s why Rangers and Celtic are wanting to do this – which I would tend to agree with.”
Celtic colts project is sound, but every club will have their own concerns
Waddell’s opinion is one that will be represented across many other Lowland/Highland league clubs. At the moment, there’s a clear frustration there regarding how the promotion system works in the bottom league.
In the current system, the winners of the Highland and Lowland leagues battle it out in a playoff tie. The winner then faces off against the side bottom of League Two. So one of the winners from either the Highland or Lowland league won’t get promoted despite securing their league title.
And that’s just one of a number of different gripes many will have with the idea. Promotion of the Highland/Lowland clubs isn’t even related to the Celtic colts’ plan. But that’s what you’ll find now. You’ll see smaller clubs looking for a few favours going their way.
Celtic and Rangers will hope that the money being splashed out will be enough to resolve any issues. That the finances will be far too attractive for lower-league clubs to snub. Especially during a global pandemic.
Sure, some will say it’s exploitative such as McInally. But it’s just business. Celtic and Rangers clearly see an opportunity to strengthen their academies and indeed Scottish football as a whole. You can hardly have a pop at them for going for it.
But Caledonian Braves boss Waddell’s view is a refreshing one. Finally, a representative of lower-league football who can appreciate what the Glasgow clubs are trying to do. Hopefully, he’s the first of many.