CRAIG MULHOLLAND believes Colt teams could be introduced into the SPFL structure in time for the start of the 2018/19 campaign.
The idea of second string sides in the lower leagues has been muted for several years and the proposal surfaced again as part of the Scottish FA’s discussions into ‘Project Brave’.
He told SportTimes: “It is something that the SPFL and the SFA are looking at closely and there are a whole range of options just now in terms of league structure, number of teams and there is a lot of consultation going on.
“It is something we are supportive of. We will look at the outcomes of the programme that we have put in place and see how successful that is.
“We have done a lot of research on Colt teams and the benefits of that. Hopefully, for the good of Scottish football, we will come up with a games programme that benefits each club at their level, works for each player at their level and produces different outcomes than perhaps the Development League has done.
“You look at player contracts and planning but also who is up and down the divisions? Where do you enter at? What level you can go to? How do players go from the Colt team to the first team?
“There are a whole range of issues that need to be resolved but I know it is something that the SFA and SPFL, along with the clubs, have been working tirelessly on. I would imagine it would be something that we would be aiming for for 2018/19.”
The debate over Colt teams has centred around Rangers and Celtic to date as the Old Firm look to lead the way in what would be a significant step for Scottish football.
But Mulholland hasn’t ruled out other clubs being able to follow suit and enter youth sides in the SPFL system.
He said: “On a Saturday at three o’clock, you could have your first team playing and your Colt team playing. So you have to have another 20 full-time professionals, another five or six full-time staff and stadium infrastructure and many other things.
“There will be a significant undertaking but I know there is an interest from a lot of other clubs and I think it is something that they are considering.
“How viable it would be for other clubs, I am not sure. But it is certainly something that other clubs are interested in.”
Rangers announced last week that they won’t field a side in the Development League next term as they look to line-up a series of matches with some of Europe’s top youth outfits.
And Mulholland is pleased with the progress that is being made at Auchenhowie as he looks to drive the Light Blues to a brighter future.
He said: “A lot of work we have done in terms of changes in the Academy so far have been structural programme change. Now what we want to do is have excellent in coaching through something called Rangers Performance Coaching Culture.
“With that, there will be a restructuring of the coaches but also, like you do in other sports, we will look at a way of developing our coaches to be as good as they can be. That will involve some new staff coming in.”
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In January, they presented the Rangers Academy with a cheque for £175,000 and also recently launched their ‘£20k in 2017’ Rangers Lotto campaign.
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