Brian McClair and Gordon Strachan have shared proposed plans for the Scottish FA’s Performance Strategy to the Chairpersons and Chief Executives of the 30 Club Academy Scotland (CAS) participants.

The Performance Director, Scotland National Coach and Chief Executive, Stewart Regan, also presented their vision in a meeting with the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, and the Sports Minister, Jamie Hepburn, at Holyrood this afternoon.

Brian has travelled the country since his appointment last June, consulting with clubs, youth and senior coaches, players and affiliated bodies to review and make recommendations in the key strands of the strategy: including the two-tier CAS system, the flagship seven Regional Performance Schools and the National Youth Teams.

Brian was joined by the Scotland National Coach as they revisited Scotland’s proud footballing history domestically, in Europe and on the international stage. They updated on the progress so far in the four years since the conception of the performance strategy and spoke passionately of the collective work required to be undertaken to realise the 2020 Vision and ensure a more prosperous future for the national game.

In broad terms, these proposals include:

•    A refining of the number of players in the CAS system (currently in excess of 2300)

•    A reduction in the number of centrally funded CAS teams to maximise investment in line with the Performance Strategy’s Best v Best principle

•    More provision for Regional Academies

•    Consultation with clubs regarding a Draft Loan system between the SPFL Premiership and Championship to improve first-team game time for young Scottish players

It was agreed that a working group will be convened to discuss the proposals in more detail and ensure collaboration between all constituent areas of the game.

Brian McClair, Scottish FA Performance Director: “I am glad we had the opportunity to discuss and debate Scottish football’s current reality and how we can all work together to improve. The most important thing for me is that we all agree that we need to improve and that any future plans should put the development of the young player at the heart of everything we do.

“The principle is very clear and is founded on hard work on the pitch and off it. Interestingly, when I spoke to the Professional Game Board at the end of last year to share some of the ideas, the one word that came back was ‘radical’. Sometimes the most radical changes are also the most simple.

“There is a lot of good work under way with the Performance Schools and with more outcome-focused investment in CAS but we need to address why our players stop developing at under-21 level and what the barriers are to playing regular football at the critical stage of development.”

Gordon Strachan, Scotland National Coach: “I am Scotland National Coach but I am also a father and grandfather and I care passionately about the state of our game and the future of our game. Naturally I am disappointed that we did not qualify for the European Championships but Scottish football’s challenges run much deeper. We need to get back to producing exciting players again, players who can be relied upon to start for their clubs at an earlier age, players who will then become more experienced and better prepared when it comes to international football.

“We need to be honest with ourselves when it comes to assessing where we are, where we want to be and how we get there. Brian and I were fortunate enough to play for top teams in Scotland and England and represent our country at major tournaments but the work was put in way before either of us made our first-team debuts.”

Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister: “I was delighted to meet with Stewart, Gordon and Brian to discuss their plans to strengthen Scottish football, and it’s clear that they are passionate about the game and how we can improve it.

“I welcome these proposals and we will work closely with the Scottish FA and SPFL to get Scottish football to where we all want it to be.

“We recognise football can be a powerful force for good and welcome the Scottish FA commitment to help deliver wider benefits to help improve health and wellbeing in our communities.”