Rangers have announced via their website that they will be withdrawing from the SPFL Development League next season.
The Light Blues have found it difficult to have players transition from their development and academy squads into the first team in recent years and have not taken a bold step forward in order to try and address that issue head on.
They’ve obtained permission from the SPFL to be excused from the Development League in 2017/18 and they’ll be putting together a schedule of matches they will serve the young players coming through their ranks better.
As quoted by Rangers.co.uk, Head of Academy Craig Mulholland said:
Our observations and research suggests that young Scottish players between the ages of 15 and 17 are every bit as talented as their peers in other European nations and we believe we must expose them to a challenge and fixtures programme which, not only matches, but exceeds, the quality of provision experienced by their peers in these countries.
The club say they will mix cross-border matches with fixtures against the senior sides of SPFL League One and League Two teams in order to challenge their youths in a new, fresh way.
Time will tell whether such a strategy will work but what’s certain is that it’s at least a sign the club are taking youth development seriously, which will greatly please fans.
Supporters have long been promised that players would be able to make the grade in the first team from their academy but have often scratched their heads at the lack of talent coming through.
It could perhaps be perceived as a risk to withdraw from week-to-week competition that allows the young Rangers stars to learn about consistency and a desire to win regularly, but it could be one worth taking in the long run if it genuinely improves the skills and prepares them better for senior action.