Falkirk FC: Club own up to failing youths

Falkirk chief executive officer Jamie Swinney has apologised to youth players left in limbo following the disbandment of a rogue 2011s squad at the club alleged to have been created without the knowledge of top brass there.

By Ben Kearney
Thursday, 7th April 2022, 4:52 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th April 2022, 4:52 pm

Speaking to the Herald, he said the club accept “full accountability” for the harm caused, adding that, as a damage-limitation exercise, they have created an exit strategy for the children involved.

Local players were offered the chance last year to join a 2011s side under the auspices of the club by a then staff member no longer at the Bairns on the promise that performance-level youth football would be offered in the near future.

Perks such as foreign training camps and a chance to attend a Scottish Football Association performance school were just some of the glamorous benefits promised.

(Picture: Michael Gillen)

However, the players involved, all of whom quit local sides to join up, have now been left without teams after the staff members involved left the club this year, with Falkirk admitting they do not have the funding needed to bankroll the squad.

Swinney told us: “It should never have ever happened and therefore it is completely unacceptable, and we, as a club, have to take ultimate accountability for it, but to be absolutely clear, these were actions that were taken by a previous employee.

“They’ve deliberately deceived the board. That was what caused the problem.

“We didn’t know about the squad until they appeared for a signing event at the stadium and, by then, they were training and playing.

“These kids were promised scary, scary things and we were kept in complete darkness. The reality is we looked into how we could make it happen but it would cost a six-figure sum for the club to attain that level of football for our youth sides on top of our commitments already.

"My heart goes out to these kids because I was a part of the previous academy and I know how much hurt that caused and I would never want to be in a situation like that again where we were letting boys down, and ultimately we were.

“We’ve offered a full exit strategy to every player involved and I’ve met and spoken to the families.

“Five years ago, 97 players found out overnight they didn’t have a place at Falkirk anymore and for this to happen now is something I personally deeply regret.”