Rangers agreed to delay innovation paper distribution – SFA president Rod Petrie

Hibernian v St Johnstone – Utilita Energy Scottish League Cup – Semi-Final – Tynecastle Stadium
(Image credit: Jeff Holmes)

Scottish Football Association president Rod Petrie has claimed Rangers agreed themselves to delay the distribution of their innovation paper to fellow league clubs.

Petrie declared himself surprised over criticism of the Scottish football authorities from Rangers managing director Stewart Robertson.

Rangers produced a paper last year advocating that both themselves and Celtic enter B teams into the lower divisions of the Scottish Professional Football League.

Robertson claimed the progress of the plans had been “slowed down” by the SFA board and expressed particular frustration that the proposal had not been shared with their fellow league clubs.

Rangers have now welcomed talks over a potential invitation from the Lowland League for both them and Celtic to submit B teams on a one-season basis next term, with neither being able to gain promotion.

In response, Petrie claimed he wanted to “clarify inaccuracies” from Robertson’s comments.

The former Hibernian chairman said: “At a virtual meeting on April 9, hosted by Stewart, and including a representative from Celtic FC, the SPFL and Scottish FA, there was general consensus on the call that given the adverse publicity and temperature among clubs, the proposal was unlikely to garner the support of enough clubs to enable the SPFL rule change to progress further.

“It was therefore agreed by both Stewart, on behalf of Rangers, and Celtic’s representative that pausing any detail being distributed to clubs would give the proposals the best chance of success.

“To repeat, the introduction of B teams as part of the innovation paper would require an SPFL vote, and after a season in which clubs have had to contend with the ongoing impact of Covid-19, a rushed decision would likely end in failure.

“It was unanimously agreed by the group, including Stewart, that the distribution any paper should take place once the 2020/21 season has ended, to give clubs an opportunity to fully consider the potential benefits without the pressures of implications of a season impacted by Covid-19.

“We are therefore surprised that Stewart is quoted on Rangers TV saying ‘the biggest frustration is that (the) paper has still never gone to the clubs. You’d need to ask the Scottish FA and SPFL why’.

“This agreement also came with the additional recommendation that any discussion on improving elite talent development would require the support of all SPFL members, not least those clubs in the lower leagues who would require to accommodate any B teams.”

Petrie added that the SFA had worked with clubs to establish the optimum model for elite talent development.

“This has included removal of the reserve league, creation of an under-20 league, creation of an under-21 league and then re-establishment of a reserve league, which was cancelled at the request of the clubs due to the challenges faced by Covid-19,” he added.

Petrie added that Rangers had been “heavily involved” in the SPFL Competitions Working Group that had discussed and amended the pathway in recent years.

“In summary, the Scottish FA believes the innovation paper to have many benefits beyond the ‘headline’ area of B teams or colt teams,” Petrie said.

“The governing body will lead, support or facilitate any innovations that improves the game in consultation with its members but to achieve success requires mutual respect, a common purpose and, ultimately, consensus.”

Lowland League clubs will meet on Monday to discuss the idea of admitting Rangers and Celtic second teams.

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