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Partick Thistle FC
Partick Thistle FC

Project Brave Statement

In response to the Scottish FA’s announcement regarding Project Brave today, Academy Director, Gerry Britton, said:

“Project Brave is the Scottish FA’s blueprint to develop better Scottish footballers, capable of leading our national team back towards the ultimate target of regular qualification for major tournaments. This is an objective that runs in tandem with our own club development plan, and I think everyone recognises that the elevation of national standards is a positive principle that should be pursued and encouraged.

“Partick Thistle Football Club has examined the Scottish FA’s proposals in detail and has debated the pros and cons of Project Brave both internally and with Scottish FA staff but also with representatives from all other Club Academy Scotland (CAS) academies over the course of the past 18 months.

“Following careful consideration, and paying heed to our Club’s own long term development strategy alongside our logistical capabilities, Partick Thistle decided against applying for inclusion in the upper tier of Project Brave, known as the Elite level. Instead the Club has applied for, and have been accepted into, the tier below – Progressive Performance.

“Being part of the Progressive Performance level will see our teams from under 11 through to under 16 take part in an attractive games programme with a number of like minded academies. In addition to these age groups, our soon to be established under 18 squad will take part in a competitive Youth League that will include all CAS squads, regardless of whether they are deemed Elite or Progressive Performance level.

“Although, as previously stated, we did not apply for Elite status it is still important to understand the key differences between the Progressive Performance and Elite levels. The main difference between the two groups is the number of times in a season that the two sets of teams will play one another with Progressive Performance academies playing Elite Academies once a season rather than twice as is currently the case.

“So, given the differences between the two levels why did we take the decision as a Club not to apply for Elite status?

  • Since the inception of the Thistle Weir Youth Academy in 2013, our Club’s developmental pathway has been carefully planned and its resources strategically deployed to maximise the prospect of every player in our pathway reaching the upper limit of their footballing potential. A number of our current first team squad, such as Andy McCarthy and Kevin Nisbet are Thistle Weir graduates. Stuart Bannigan, Ryan Scully and Liam Lindsay have also reaped the benefit of our youth development projects, which we are confident will continue to increase the number of home grown players featuring in our first team in future years. Given the trajectory along which our own academy is moving we didn’t feel the additional resource required to meet the Elite criteria would bring with it big enough proportionate benefits to deem it worthwhile.
  • Since 2013, annual spending on our Club’s youth development plan has continued at the highest level in the Club’s history. Meeting the criteria required for inclusion at the Elite level of Project Brave would have required a further substantial increase in the current financial outlay on behalf of the Club. This increase would have taken the figure to one approaching 20% of our annual turnover or around £600,000 per annum.
  • Our development methods are currently achieving success for our Academy. Our under 17 squad has finished in the top six positions in the league for the past two seasons and under 17 forward, Aidan Fitzpatrick, recently became the first Thistle Weir graduate to represent his country. The Club’s perspective is that current outputs from the Academy are operating exponentially given the inputs made.
  • Given the mix of different circumstances involved, youth development planning must be unique to each club. It is not a one size fits all recipe for success. Priorities specific to our academy’s development plan must be identified and available resources directed to best fuel those priorities. A commitment to securing a place at the Elite level would inevitably see some of these resources siphoned in order to tick the relevant boxes. As things stand though, those areas will continue to be advanced with our utmost enthusiasm and professional diligence.

“Across the club, we now have a growth mind-set that will see us continue to innovate and set benchmarks in methods and practises for developing young footballers. As we eagerly anticipate the building of our bespoke training facility, which will have a profoundly positive impact on all of our player’s development potential, we will continue to fully utilise every resource available to us.

“Academies can apply for inclusion in the Project Brave Elite tier on an annual basis, so we will continue to monitor all aspects of the SFA programme to ensure that we are well placed to readjust our level of involvement at any time, if we feel it will benefit our development process.

“Taking all things into consideration, there can be no denying it’s a great time to be a young player at Partick Thistle.

“The future’s bright, the future’s red and yellow!”

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