Rangers and Celtic are in talks with the Lowland League over plans to enter ‘B teams’ into the competition for next season.
The plans, which are still at an early stage, would see the two Glasgow sides commit to their development or ‘Colts’ teams playing in the SLFL for one season.
Colts teams have been permitted to play in the SPFL’s Challenge Cup competition in recent seasons, but proposals to see them join the full SPFL league set-up have been rejected by member clubs.
A statement released by the league on Wednesday detailed the move. It read: “The Scottish Lowland Football League (SLFL) can today confirm that it has entered into discussions to invite Rangers and Celtic ‘B’ teams to enter the league for next season (2021/22) on a one-season basis.
“The discussions, which are at an early stage, have come following an invite to open talks from the Lowland League to both clubs to help solve the gap which exists in the player development pathway in Scotland, helping some of the countries best young players for a year, and also bringing significant benefit to the Lowland League and our clubs.
“Discussions have been productive and will continue over the coming days. We share a common consensus with Rangers and Celtic that player development and the importance of the pyramid system need to be priorities for the game in Scotland.
“The SLFL Board made it clear at the outset that no current member club would be adversely affected in any way by the proposal, in fact the opposite, and ultimately as a member’s organisation the clubs would need to vote in favour of this. All of our clubs have the exciting proposal and consultation will be with them first and foremost.”
League chairperson, George Fraser, said that the proposal was for one season because of wider talks designed to improve the game in Scotland. Fraser said that the interim step would be for the benefit of all involved.
“It is clear from the discussions we have had that both Celtic and Rangers are looking for a league to put their ‘B’ teams into where they can develop as players,” he said. “Having been on the PGB sub group tasked with further developing the well-publicised ‘Scottish Football Innovation’ paper, a project which is still on-going and may well be implemented for season 22/23, it was absolutely clear to me that there is a major gap in the player pathway which would, if not addressed, impact a generation of our best young talent.
“That is why the Lowland League, as a modern progressive organisation, have identified an opportunity, and are open to embracing positive change which will have massive benefit for our own clubs and league but importantly also for the wider Scottish game.
“Over the last few years the Lowland League has proved to be a well-run professional league and both these clubs feel their teams and players will develop by being part of it, while importantly for us we will be able to generate new revenues and shine a spotlight on the aspirational and ambitious clubs we have within our ranks. As always league integrity and the importance of the pyramid will be paramount and this will be unaffected by this plan and this was also a priority for both Rangers and Celtic who fully respect this.
“We will continue to have discussions with various parties over the next week or so and see how they progress. Hopefully this will result in an exciting outcome which is a clear demonstration of the Lowland League leading the way in how to modernise our football structures for the benefit of all.”