Celtic Director of Football hopeful John Collins has heated on-air debate with Donald Findlay

By David Walton

March 23, 2021

Former Celtic man John Collins was involved in a heated debate with ex-Rangers vice-chairman Donald Findlay on Sportsound.

Collins, a hopeful to be Celtic’s new Director of Football [BBC], had been putting forward his case for colt teams to be integrated into the lower leagues. This comes after the Daily Record reported that lesser clubs look set to block a proposal for Celtic and Rangers to enter their “B” sides into League Two.

Findlay, meanwhile, opposed Collins. The former Ibrox vice-chairman is currently the chairman of Cowdenbeath. It’s clear from Findlay’s verdict how they’ll be voting when it comes to pass.

But Collins wasn’t willing to lie down in his insistence on the matter. Speaking on BBC Sportsound last night, he got tore into Findlay and questioned what he knows about player development. Here’s how the argument went:

“Have you ever developed a player?”

Collins: “I want Scotland to get to finals year in, year out. And how are they going to get to finals? By developing more elite, young Scottish football players so the national manager has more to pick from, whether they’re Celtic, Rangers, Hibs, Hearts, Aberdeen. For me, the smaller clubs – which I’ve played at – are important to their communities but not vital to developing elite youth players that are going to play for Scotland.

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“(On Spain and Italy) They are masters at developing elite players and they play at World Cups and European Championships’ every second year. We don’t.”

Findlay: “Because they play their reserves in the lower leagues? That’s why they win win the World Cup? Oh, come on, please Mr Collins, give us a break.”

Collins: “Have you ever developed a player, have you ever coached an elite football player? You’re a master in law, are you a master in player development?”

Findlay: That’s insulting for you to say that to me. It is insulting. For Mr Collins to come on and say that is quite offensive. The people who are involved at the lower clubs, with their communities, put a lot of effort into keeping those clubs going and giving players a chance to play football.

Collins: “I have huge respect for all people involved. Trust me, I’m an ambassador at my local club Gala Fairydean Rovers. I know how hard these people work. They give their free time week in, week out. But they are not involved in elite player development, they are involved in community development. I think the vote should be taken away. The most important thing should be developing our elite players and finding a system that does that.”

Celtic hopeful John Collins harsh but fair

If we’re going to get into the nitty-gritty, it’s difficult to see how anyone can have a go at Collins. All he’s doing here is telling facts. Scotland, if they are to continuously get to major competutions, need to have their players playing senior football at an earlier age.

Findlay tries to scoff at the idea of colt sides playing in lower leagues and its relation to nations that qualify for competitions. But look at the clubs around Europe who have a second side in their lesser competitions.

Germany, Spain, Italy, and even France all have this system in place. Many of the bigger clubs around Europe do their best to promote from within. The likes of Barcelona and Bayern Munich are famous for it. They promote these players by exposing them to senior football from a very young age.

It’s no use having your best young stars playing development football until they’re 20. By that age, similarly aged players across Europe have been involved in title-chases, relegation scraps, and sometimes even European football.

John Collins (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

There’s a reason we get so excited in this country when a young Scottish player breaks through. The reason being it doesn’t happen often enough. In other countries, it’s the norm to see a young group of players rising through every several years. Where as in Scotland we’re reliant on calling up players born in other countries and ones who’ve rejected us in the past.

Collins says it like it is here. Lower-league clubs are of course vital to their communities. Many across Scotland do some great work in their area and are a beacon of positivity. But, with all due respect, with the facilities at clubs such as Celtic and Rangers, nobody else in Scotland can compete.

Allowing these naturally gifted academies to give their best youngsters game-time at senior level from a young age can do wonders in the long-term.

In other news, a report has shed light on how Marian Shved feels about his future.