Hamilton's Les Gray says clubs need to back SFA youth overhaul

A youth football game
Project Brave aims to improve youth football in Scotland

Hamilton Academical chairman Les Gray says the Scottish FA needs the support of clubs to make Project Brave a success.

The SFA's project, which Gray has been involved with, aims to improve youth football and provide more players for Scotland's national team.

Gray admits it may be the "last chance" to make it a success.

"We're getting close to actually pushing it in the right direction," Gray told BBC Scotland.

"The SFA are working hard to try and do the right things to get change, they need the clubs to buy in.

"They need to be inclusive, they can't exclude clubs that want to do it properly.

"It might be the last chance but let's give it every chance."

'Last chance saloon'

The SFA appointed Malky Mackay as their new performance director last year - the third person to take on the role since 2011.

Mackay will lead Project Brave and clubs will soon be sent details on its implementation.

Proposals include moving academy football up to under-16 level to the summer, re-introducing a reserve league for senior clubs and increasing the use of development loans to lower league clubs for players up to 21 years.

There are also plans to reduce the number of fully-funded performance academies and the number of players within them.

Les Gray
Gray was part of the working party behind the SFA blueprint

And Gray added: "This is the last chance saloon for our FA to get it right because we've tried for two, three, four decades to do this now and in the last 20 years or so, has there been progress? Possibly some but not enough.

"Can we make this work? Can we bring the right people in? Can we get the right coaching staff, the right sports scientists, the right medical people who will drive our academies for us, up the standards, get better players playing for our national team and ultimately playing for Scottish football?

"The big problem is you can do all of that and reward the clubs and you can get clubs like ours putting our own money in to top it up to make it work [but] how do you make the manager play the young players?

"Our managers [at Hamilton] buy in. They can't be the manager if they don't buy in to what we do. It's simple."

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