The Scottish FA’s performance director Mark Wotte says he has been encouraged by the start made to the Clydesdale Bank Under-20 League following its launch last night.
The league format changed from an under-19 setup comprising of the 12 Scottish Premier League youth sides to an under-20 division with the inclusion of three SFL teams (Dunfermline Athletic, Falkirk and Hamilton Academical).
Clubs are also allowed the use of two overage players and one under-23 player and games will take place at stadia across the country scheduled for Tuesday night kick-offs.
Wotte attended last night’s match between Celtic, winners of last season’s under-19 league, and St Mirren at Firhill Stadium, and praised the standard on show.
He said: “I was very pleased with the feedback I received about all of the under-20 matches being played last night.
“I went to see Celtic play St Mirren and it was great to see them play in a stadium and on a good surface.
“The teams were made up of young talented players and both played in the spirit of the league and to a high standard.
“Around 600-700 fans were at Firhill last night which is a good crowd for an under-20 match and they brought a great atmosphere to the game. We should not underestimate the value of the fans and I hope they enjoy seeing the stars of the future playing in a professional environment.”
Dutchman Wotte, who helped drive through the league’s restructuring, believes young players will benefit from playing against older players on a regular basis and in a stadium environment.
He said: “This is a developmental league that will ultimately allow young elite Scottish players to play against some older players and pick up fantastic experience.
“They will grow up more quickly in the game with this format than they would have making the jump from under-19 football to first team so I believe the clubs will soon reap the rewards of the changes.
“It’s a new format and we will review it in January but I am very pleased with the start we have made and I am encouraged at the standard of youth football being played in Scotland.”
Tuesday August 7, 2012
Celtic 1-0 St Mirren - Firhill, 7pm
Dundee P-P Motherwell
Dunfermline 3-1 Kilmarnock - East End Park, 7pm
Falkirk 1-1 Hamilton Accies - Falkirk Stadium, 7pm
Ross County 1-3 Hibernian - Global Energy Stadium, 7pm
St Johnstone 1-0 Dundee United - McDiarmid Park, 7pm
Free week - Inverness CT
Wednesday August 8, 2012
Hearts 1-3 Aberdeen - Newtongrange, 2pm
You can keep up to date with the latest from the Under-20 league at the Scottish Premier League's website: www.scotprem.com