Youth supremo Britton just wants a place to call home for his Thistle kids

GERRY BRITTON is laying the foundations for Partick Thistle's future using an ideology and blueprint honed over several years.

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Colin and Chris Weir with their cheque for over £161million which they won on the Euromillions in 2011

But one day he hopes it will be bricks and mortar that are being put down to help the Jags fully realise their potential.

It is six months since the Premiership club received £750,000 from Euromillions winners Colin and Chris Weir to launch the ThistleWeir Youth Academy and transform a structure that had been under-funded for too long.

The progress thus far has been impressive, with Firhill legend Britton quickly putting into practice the ideas he had always wanted to yet couldn't due to budgetary constraints.

But, as Thistle stars young and old head to various facilities across the city - from the Firhill Complex to Petershill Park - on a daily basis, a place to call home is still missing.

"The ideal scenario for every football club is to have a base that you could use," Britton told SportTimes.

"Lochinch is a fantastic facility and the first team use it quite a lot. We do as much as we can there.

"The only thing we don't have is an indoor facility, that is the only thing that is missing there.

"Having our own base would be the ideal scenario. In terms of the long-term plan for the club, that is there. How soon it comes to fruition, I don't know.

"Everyone can see the benefit of having a central base and having somewhere that is specific to your own needs. That is the long-term dream."

Thistle may not have their own centre of excellence but that hasn't stopped Britton and his staff in their tracks in recent months as they have made significant strides forward away from the glare of the first-team arena.

The club now has 42 members of staff at the Elite Academy level and are engaging with kids as young as five across the city to give them a taste of professional coaching while also giving something back to the community.

The Jags are only a few months into a project that will last a lifetime but Britton is pleased with the progress being made.

He said: "It is going really well. We have probably managed to do more than we envisaged initially. We had a basic framework in place and we are now able to take that further due to the funding we have been given.

"We had ideas and we have used the time to put that into place. The first real go we had at it was in 2002 when I was the manager.

"Unfortunately when the club got relegated we didn't have the revenue to keep it going and it fell by the wayside. It was reinstated four or five years ago on a part-time basis. But, where we are now, is the starting point.

"We are obviously competing with Celtic and Rangers but also clubs like Queen's Park, Dundee United, Hibs, clubs that come to this area for players.

"We are at least five years behind them so we have got a long way to go and the benefits will be gradual. It is a long process."

Being able to look into the future and plan several years down the line has rarely been possible at Firhill as the club have moved up and down the Scottish league ladder but the funding provided by the Weirs has changed the Jags' outlook.

ALAN ARCHIBALD'S side remain well placed to avoid the drop from the Premiership this season but, even if the worst case scenario unfolds, Britton will see the foundations he has put in place crumble.

He said: "The money had to be separate from the first team. It is for youth development, it is ring-fenced and can't be channelled elsewhere.

"We have got this funding for the rest of this season and another two and the intention is that by that stage we have got a good process in place and we are starting to see the benefits of the work we are doing with the kids. We have the stability you need in youth development."

Football

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