Clubs’ joint Academy is re-classified

Forth Valley football Academy – covering Stenhousemuir and Falkirk – has been categorised in tier two of Project Brave – Progressive.

But the ranking below elite level for two clubs who have made a conscious investment over recent years to promote young players via the regional academy won’t change their outlook.

The Stirling based set-up is joined by the likes of Ross County and Dundee United in the second tier of the new project. And Falkirk chairman Margaret Lang says the banding doesn’t change her partner club’s focus.

She told The Falkirk Herald: “We’re not classed as elite but we’ll just stick with what we know and what we have been doing.

“We have progressed many players through to first team level and that will continue.

“We will continue to work and progress towards some of the criteria and improving under the project, while continuing to provide the pathway we always have and are known for. We hold huge value in our Academy and we do it well.”

The groupings have been formulated in terms of new criteria set for the SFA project, which – in the case of Forth Valley, Falkirk and Stenhousemuir – would have required additional investment to meet the elite criteria.

Criteria for elite status, set by Club Academy Scotland included a range of academy aspects including indoor facilities which would not be considered an affordable priority for either club at this stage.

As such Stenhousemuir director Iain McMenemy reckons the Academy is at a suitable level, but agrees it is business as usual for players wishing to make the move from Stirling to Stenhousemuir.

SFA Performance director Malky Mackay said: “No door is closed to clubs outside of the Elite bracket with aspirations. The ‘Progressive’ category was designed to ensure ‘smaller’ but ambitious clubs with academies could find their natural place in the system, with scope to push on.”