Hibs: George Craig in as club begin venture with Spartans

Hibernian have appointed George Craig as head of football operations and also initiated a youth development partnership with Spartans.

Former Falkirk managing director Craig leaves his youth development role with the Scottish FA.

And Hibs say "the best youngsters developed by Lowland League Spartans" will "progress through a jointly run Transition Academy".

The clubs are keen to develop players between the ages of eight and 11.

"We have been looking to collaborate with an Scottish Professional Football League club and Hibernian is an excellent partner for us," said Spartans chairman Craig Graham.

Spartans badge

After playing in the East of Scotland League, Spartans joined the new Lowland League last year

"We were keen to align to the SFA's strategy for regional academies for the very best young players and this partnership does just that.

"This agreement will see us take an holistic approach to creating a player pathway which will enable our young players to enjoy elite football in a supportive environment and graduate from the Transition Academy better equipped for life, education and the appropriate level of football participation."

The venture, which will be governed by a joint board, will involve both Hibs' training centre near Tranent and Spartans' Ainslie Park so that "the clubs are well-placed to work with the best young footballers in Edinburgh, East Lothian and the Lothians".

Following relegation from the Premiership, Hibs, who are looking for a new manager following the sacking of Terry Butcher, will be in the Championship in season 2014-15 while Spartans will be one of the 14 clubs bidding for promotion from the Lowland League to the senior ranks.

Craig's role is a newly-created post at Easter Road.

"My main objective will be to ensure there is a clear pathway from our academy set-up all the way through to the first team," he explained

Hibernian's training centre in Tranent

Hibernian's training centre in Tranent opened in 2007

"My experience from working with the Scottish FA's Club Academy Scotland set-up will help to strengthen that process.

"This is a club with huge potential and I'm keen to implement new plans as quickly as possible to improve several areas and build the foundations for long-term success at Hibernian."

Chief executive Leeann Dempster added: "We're really pleased that George has joined the club - he brings with him a wealth of experience and expertise from his time working with the SFA.

"Just to clarify the point, his remit is broad and covers a wide range of areas - he is not a director of football.

"George will ensure we aim to introduce the best coaching syllabus, scouting network, individual development programmes, sports science and performance analysis into the football club.

"George and I will be developing and writing both football and non-football plans for the club - incorporating the first team, academy and community foundation."