Hearts will stay in Reserve League despite Celtic intentions

By David Walton

May 9, 2019

Hearts have confirmed that they will stay in the Reserve League regardless of Celtic’s intentions.

The Jambos confirmed yesterday via Craig Levein that they will stay in the division. Levein evidently values the newly formed SPFL Reserve League. Hearts finished its inaugural season in seventh place. That shows that the Jambos were clearly tested considerably throughout the campaign.

So it appears not everyone is disillusioned with the new league. Celtic and Rangers both intimated their intentions to drop out of the competition next season.

Celtic and Rangers will both look to drop out of the Reserve League (Vagelis Georgariou/Action Plus via Getty Images)

Head of Youth Development Chris McCart doesn’t see what value it’s giving our players. Celtic currently have the problem of players being too good for reserve level but not yet good enough for the first-team.

As expected, Celtic are therefore exploring other avenues, with Rangers looking to do the same. St Johnstone, meanwhile, have announced that they’ll disband their reserve side for next season, as they don’t see the benefits it should be providing them.

Reserve League has to change

It’s unclear as to why there are only 17 games in a Reserve League season. But it’s one of the big problems that the SPFL face. Players aren’t getting tested frequently enough, and many matches earlier this season were taking place every two weeks.

The likes of Karamoko Dembele needs regular games (Vagelis Georgariou/Action Plus via Getty Images)

In an ideal world, this would be a much more competitive and frequent division. Taking such big gaps between matches can make players become disillusioned with the competition. The state of certain playing surfaces is also a concern at youth level.

The new reserve campaign starts in August 2019. It’s likely to be over three months away given its August 20th start this season. Therefore, that’s far too long a gap to have youngsters not playing competitive reserve-team football.

St Johnstone are the latest club to leave the Reserve League (Paul Thomas/Getty Images)

If Celtic do make the decision to leave, and it seems clear they inevitably will, it will be exciting to see what other projects are on the go for the academy youngsters. There’s been no indication of what a future away from the Reserve League could look like.

But as it stands, it’s interesting to see that not all clubs have been disappointed by it. Celtic, as has already been made clear, aren’t one of them.