Project Brave: Scottish FA confirms eight-club academy elite

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Image copyright SNS
Image caption Celtic and Aberdeen are among the eight clubs to earn a place in the top tier of the academy structure

Scottish FA performance director Malky Mackay has named the eight clubs to attain elite-level status within the new academy structure.

Aberdeen, Celtic, Hamilton, Hearts, Hibernian, Kilmarnock, Motherwell and Rangers successfully met the SFA's Project Brave top-tier criteria.

Fellow top-flight sides Partick Thistle, Ross County and St Johnstone are in the second-tier "Progressive".

Dundee sit in the lowest of the three bands - "Performance".

The Championship's top two clubs, St Mirren and Dundee United, admitted they could not afford to apply for a place in the elite bracket.

Scotland's new academy structure
Elite: Aberdeen, Celtic, Hamilton Academical, Hearts, Hibernian, Kilmarnock, Motherwell, Rangers.
Progressive: Ayr United, Dundee United, Forth Valley, Inverness Caledonian Thistle, Partick Thistle, Ross County, St Mirren, St Johnstone.
Performance: Dundee, Fife, Greenock Morton, Queen's Park.

Ross County and Morton's position in the second and third tiers respectively may be subject to appeal.

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Image caption Malky Mackay has overseen the implementation of Project Brave

Mackay, who took interim charge of the national team for last week's friendly defeat by the Netherlands, emphasised that the academy bandings will be re-examined next year.

"Club Academy Scotland is a fundamental part of the process and a lot of work has gone into developing the criteria used to assess the clubs," said Mackay.

"The clubs have been engaged at every step, with daily dialogue to help with their applications.

"We have been heartened and inspired by so many of the positive things we have seen in regards to the development of young Scottish footballers and our aim is to assist clubs and encourage them to hit the highest possible standards.

"What I would like to stress is that the bandings are not fixed and they will be reassessed in June 2018.

"No door is closed to clubs outside of the elite bracket with aspirations to move up.

"As a result of the conversations we had with clubs, a new middle tier was created.

"The 'Progressive' category was designed to ensure 'smaller' but ambitious clubs with academies could find their natural place in the system, with scope to push on.

"For those in the top tier, we will continue to monitor their work in conjunction with our independent auditors.

"This is only one more step but we believe it's a crucial one. This is a significant milestone for Project Brave."