SPFL Reserve League: Hibernian withdraw citing concerns over set-up

Hibs won the development league and youth cup double in 2017-18
Hibs won the development league and youth cup double in 2017-18

Hibernian have confirmed that they will not be fielding a team in the SPFL Reserve League "in its current format".

A new set-up, with 27 clubs across two divisions, was introduced this season, replacing the development leagues.

This was recommended by a competitions working group, which included Scottish FA performance director Malky Mackay.

But Hibs say: "We don't feel that the format best supports our wish to maximise the development potential of our young players."

A statement from the Edinburgh club adds: "That is obviously a view shared by several other clubs who have made their feelings known, both privately and publicly."

Rangers removed themselves from the development system in 2017-18, opting to play friendly games against English Premier League and European sides.

They returned to the newly instated reserve league this term, winning the title from Celtic, with Hibs third.

"This was not a decision we took lightly as a club and we are committed to playing our part in ensuring that youth development in Scotland is in the best possible condition it can be," said Hibs' head of football operations George Craig.

"If we wish to constantly improve standards across the board then it stands to reason that we have to constantly re-evaluate what we do and there are some concerns about the reserve league set-up as it is.

"The best-case scenario for us would be to see a number of the boys go out on loan to senior clubs, playing at the weekends while also being able to take part in our midweek programme against specifically-sourced opposition.

"Nothing is ever set in stone. We will continue to fine tune and re-evaluate what we do but the goal remains the same."

The competitions working group that devised the system hoped younger players would progress better alongside more experienced team-mates on a regular basis.

However, clubs, including Celtic and Rangers, have voiced concerns over the lack of competition and poor standard of facilities.

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