NFL-style draft youth system considered by Scottish football

By Chris McLaughlinBBC Scotland
Celtic's Luke Donnelly battles with Rangers' Dylan Dykes
Celtic and Rangers could be among clubs giving youth players to lower league clubs

Scottish football could be moving towards a player draft system under new proposals put forward by the Scottish FA and backed by national manager Gordon Strachan.

Its aim is to get younger players more competitive game time.

The plan foresees Scottish Premiership clubs providing around five under-20's players for a lower league draft pot.

Club representatives were told about the plans during a presentation at Hampden Park on Wednesday.

It was headed up by Strachan and SFA performance director Brian McClair.

The SFA will now look to set up a steering group and invite club representatives to take part before reporting back with a firm proposal.

In a system similar to American Football's National Football League college draft, club picks could depend on league position - with the team at the bottom of the Championship possibly having first pick of the player pool.

Speaking to BBC Scotland, one Scottish Premiership chairman described the proposals as "innovative and interesting" and said all ideas on the table should be listened to.

Ronny Deila
Ronny Deila is in favour of loaning out Celtic academy players to lower league clubs

The draft plans were one of many proposals discussed as the SFA pushed forward with its review of the game's youth development system.

It is understood that the SFA is also keen to cut the number of so-called elite players in the current youth academy system in an attempt to create better competition and a best versus best environment.

Celtic manager Ronny Deila says he is always willing to cooperate with other clubs when it comes to loaning out talented youngsters and is generally keen to see young players gain experience at other clubs.

"It is the first time I have heard about it, so it is hard for me to say something about it, but in general it is important the youngsters get experience and a chance," Deila said.

"That is why we loan out a lot of our younger players when they come to a stage that they have trained with the first-team, played in the under-20s and then need a new step between playing under-20s and playing for Celtic."

"It is always positive to cooperate with different clubs and do the best for Scottish football.

"For us, we haven't had any problem getting players out on loan. We have a lot of good players here.

"A lot of the other teams in the different divisions want to have them. For us, it is about us getting the right ones into the right places. Everything is about relations."

John Hughes says the academy system for youth players in Scotland is not working
John Hughes says the academy system for youth players in Scotland is not working

Inverness Caledonian Thistle manager John Hughes has, however, dismissed the notion of a draft system and insists that, in order to improve Scottish football, the emphasis has to be on coaching youngsters' technique and getting them playing day in day out.

"I think that's a lot of rubbish. It was never on the agenda. I don't where that's come from," Hughes told BBC Scotland.

"We need to be coaching technical ability - forget tactics. Every footballer should be double step-overs drag backs left foot right foot, technical right up to they're 12 years old.

"I don't think it's about elite academies. I don't think it works. Play for Boys' Brigade, play for the boys clubs, play for your school.

"Do you know why school football's great? Because you never got coached - you just went and enjoyed yourself and played football.

"Kids getting too much football? You're having a laugh. Should be playing football every night and every day.

"Whole society's changed. Need to get back to that, need to encourage them. But most important, you need to teach technique."