Malky Mackay begins consulting clubs to gain support for Project Brave

Malky Mackay and Stewart Regan
Malky Mackay (left) aims to gather club support for proposed changes to the national performance strategy

Scottish FA performance director Malky Mackay will this week attempt to convince clubs to back proposed reductions to the number of funded academies in Scotland.

The suggestion is part of Project Brave - the outcome of an SFA working group tasked with improving and increasing the development of elite players.

It recommends reducing the 29 funded academies to a maximum of 16.

Mackay will consult member clubs in detail at four events this week.

Under the plans, clubs will have their academies assessed by an independent company to assess which ones meet the new criteria.

"We need to focus on the very best players in the very best academies with our limited resources we have," SFA chief executive Stewart Regan said.

Mackay will present to member clubs at Oriam, the new national performance centre for sport

"One of the recommendations from the working group was to have no more than 16 academies in Scotland defined as elite. Any club can put a bid in, and they will be independently audited against a defined set of criteria. If they are successful, they will be included in Scotland's list of elite academies."

Project Brave's recommendations:

  • Reducing the current number of 29 academies and circa 2,500 players.
  • Re-introducing a reserve league, with a minimum and maximum number of overage players in each team, to replace the current Under-20 Development League.
  • Switching academy football up to under-16 level to the summer, with the shorter Futsal game adopted in the winter.
  • Increasing the use of development loans to lower league clubs for players up to 21 years.

The working group for the strategy was formed in March last year, and initiated by Mackay's predecessor, Brian McClair.

Clubs that do not meet the eligibility criteria for Club Academy Scotland status - and central funding - will still have access to funding from the SFA to enable them to continue running their academies.

"We want to make sure that we get the best support to help us manage the migration to our new academy system," Regan told the SFA website.

"We have identified an organisation from Europe, Double Pass, who work with a number of key countries, including the FAs in England, Belgium, and others in Scandinavia.

"They will be coming on board sometime in 2017 to start the auditing process to establish whether club academies meet the criteria we set out, and will be continually reviewing academies into next year to make sure they are the standard we need."

In his first major task since succeeding McClair in December, Mackay will give presentations to member clubs in the academy programme at events at St Johnstone, Kilmarnock, Oriam and Hampden Park. Club feedback will then be incorporated into the final report before Project Brave becomes operational at the start of season 2017/18.