SFA voice concern as Livingston disband youth academy

The Scottish Football Association has voiced concerns over the future of the young players affected by Livingston’s decision to close their youth system.

Livingston confirmed earlier on Sunday that it had taken a “strategic and financial decision” to withdraw support for a series of youth academy teams.

The Premiership club also blamed Project Brave for their decision, with the SFA having awarded Livingston a place in the bottom tier of the nation’s revamped development structure.

Livingston’s statement read: “Project Brave has placed Livingston in the bottom tier of the new youth structure with funding and governance requirements which make it impossible for the club to continue with its aim of nurturing young talent through top-class competition.

“This has been an incredibly difficult decision for the club, but we have agreed that our focus must now be on the Premier League and the huge challenge ahead this season.

“We will of course continue with a reserve team which allows for players from 16 years of age and older to participate, thus providing opportunities for young players to progress to the first team squad.”

A response came from the SFA later on Sunday.

Their statement read: “We appreciate that this will not have been an easy decision for them to make and that it will have a significant impact on staff and the young players involved in the respective age levels.

“Our overriding concern at this time is for the young footballers who have been affected by this change in Livingston’s strategic direction.

“Clubs are invited to apply for the youth level they feel is most appropriate for them. Livingston applied for their place in the ‘Advanced Youth’ tier, which includes a level of funding consistent with that received before the introduction of Project Brave – honouring a Scottish FA commitment to member clubs.

“As their comments note, it is their right to reallocate funding to the first team in what is their first season back in the Ladbrokes Premiership if they feel that is in the long-term interests of the club.”