Falkirk chair Margaret Lang has confirmed that the club have pulled the plug on it’s lauded youth academy to reinforce the first team’s bid to return to the Premiership.

The Bairns are the major backers of the Forth Valley Football academy they set up with Stenhousemuir and East Stirling but will end their annual six-figure commitment on December 31.

The move comes after the club undertook a strategic review entitled ‘Towards the Premiership’.

Lang admits their business model of selling their best assets is no longer sustainable after the club posted operational losses in the last two years.

Falkirk have been in the Championship since 2010 when their five-year stint in the top-flight came to an end and currently occupy the relegation play-off zone following a poor start to the season.

The likes of Scott Arfield, Darren Barr, Stephen Kingsley, Jay Fulton, Botti Biabi, Ryan Blair and Connor McGrandles are among past academy graduates.

Lang said: “Over the past ten years our business model has become more and more reliant on player sales, finishing higher than top four in the Scottish Championship and a strong run in cup competitions.

"Since the successful run to the Scottish Cup Final in 2015 the club has made losses over the past two years at an operational level, even after player transfer income has been taken into account.

“This is likely to continue in the current year given how we have performed in the season so far.

“Ultimately, this model is unsustainable. If we carry on doing what we have always done, we will remain as we are presently. We recognise an absolute need to change the way we do things.

“We want to be a Premiership football club, and to achieve this, our First Team needs to be our absolute focus.

“As a result of this, the decision has been taken to prioritise the use of available resources in our first team. From 31st December onwards, Falkirk Football Club will therefore cease its funding of the Forth Valley Football Academy.”

Falkirk officials have examined Brentford’s football structure after the English Championship side closed their own academy in 2016 and set up a B team.

Lang, who sanctioned manager Paul Hartley’s recruitment of full-back Tommy Robson from Sunderland on Tuesday, added: “This was not an easy decision and means that our focus on youth development will, for the time being at least, significantly reduce.

“In making this decision, we explored many different models, visiting clubs in England to enhance our understanding of the options to consider.

“We are also reviewing our continued involvement in the SPFL Development/Reserve League from the end of the current season. Any final decision on this will of course be communicated at the appropriate time.

“Currently, there is limited recruitment structure at the club. This must change.

“We want to ensure we have the recruitment structure in place to identify the best possible individuals who can help us not only reach the Premiership, but to stay there and allow the club to grow to its fullest potential.

“The allocation of finance from youth development to the first team and its recruitment network, we believe, is the best way for this club to move forward and achieve its full potential.

“We are all aware that the last few months have been difficult, but we are more determined than ever that this club will now progress in the right direction and start to move ‘Towards the Premiership.’”