Livingston make 'incredibly difficult' call to close youth academy

Kilmarnock's Greg Kiltie (left) competes with Livingston's Nicky Cadden
Livingston earned a 0-0 draw with Kilmarnock in their first home Premiership game on Saturday

Livingston have taken the "incredibly difficult decision" of disbanding their youth academy teams.

The West Lothian club have opted to focus their resources on their Premiership campaign - their first in Scotland's top flight for 12 years.

Livingston lacked certain criteria to be included in the Scottish FA's academy structure when it was launched last November as part of Project Brave.

The club says it is a "strategic and financial decision" to close it down.

"Project Brave has placed Livingston Football Club in the bottom tier of the new youth structure, with funding and governance requirements which make it impossible for the club to continue with its aim of nurturing young talent through top class competition," said a statement from Livingston chairman Robert Wilson.

"This has been an incredibly difficult decision for the club, but we have agreed that our focus must now be on the Premiership and the huge challenge ahead this season.

"We will of course continue with a reserve team which allow for players from 16+ years of age to participate, and thus providing opportunities for young players to progress to the first team squad."

Livingston were recently placed in the second tier of the Scottish Professional Football League's new reserve league structure, which has replaced the development leagues.

It has been reported more than 50 teenage players will be released from the club's academy, which in the past two decades has produced Scotland internationals such as Robert Snodgrass, Leigh Griffiths, Graham Dorrans and Murray Davidson.

"Livingston Football Club recognises the outstanding work of coaches Jimmy Dunn and Peter Main, the support from parents, guardians and friends, and the dedication of ambitious young players," the statement continued.

"We are committed to doing all we can to help coaches and players going forward by helping to place them with new clubs."

Leigh Griffiths playing for Livingston
Leigh Griffiths, pictured in 2008, came through the youth ranks at Livingston

The Scottish FA released a statement "noting the course of action" taken by Livingston.

"We appreciate that this will not have been an easy decision for them to make and that it will have a significant impact on staff and the young players involved in the respective age levels," it said.

"Our overriding concern at this time is for the young footballers who have been affected by this change in Livingston's strategic direction.

"Clubs are invited to apply for the youth level they feel is most appropriate for them. Livingston applied for their place in the 'Advanced Youth' tier, which includes a level of funding consistent with that received before the introduction of Project Brave - honouring a Scottish FA commitment to member clubs.

"As their comments note, it is their right to reallocate funding to the first team in what is their first season back in the Ladbrokes Premiership if they feel that is in the long-term interests of the club."

Top Stories

Around Scottish sport