PARENTS and club officials in Glasgow have branded a decision to lock more than 400 players out of a youth football league as “ridiculous”. 

The game’s chiefs have come under fire after rejecting a plea to extend the age limit of the new Scottish Lowland Development League from under-20 to under-21 this season, effectively giving an extra year to youngsters sidelined by the pandemic. 

It was also hoped the one-off change would tackle the negative impact Covid has had on the players’ mental and physical health

Glasgow Times:

However, the Scottish Football Association (SFA) rejected the plans, saying they could adversely affect younger age groups and instead suggested clubs loan out their youngsters.

Around 483 players are believed to have now been “left in limbo” across Scotland with teams in the city, including Govan’s Benburb and Pollok FC, among those affected. 

Karen Gordon, secretary of Benburb U20s, said: “It could affect 483 boys. We put it to the SFA and Ian Maxwell [SFA chief executive] and he refused it. It had to go to the professional gaming board and they came back with three reasons for refusing it.

“They decided there and then that it wouldn’t happen and gave three reasons, three reasons that were wrong, to reject it, meaning these players could be put out of football.

"It’s all about development but these boys have not had the opportunity. It’s just ridiculous and such a shame.

Glasgow Times: Karen Gordon blasted the move Karen Gordon blasted the move

“I don’t think they have looked at the big picture. It could have huge implications on boys’ mental health. We’ve never experienced this before and you have to think about that.” 

The decision – which came on the eve of a new season of the Development League – was revealed shortly after 20-year-old Billy Gilmour impressed for Scotland at Euro 2020 and Karen believes his impact shows why it is important players his age are not lost. 

“At least 300 will drop out of football,” Karen, whose team will lose six boys, said. “We’ve just watched Scotland at the Euros and who stood out? Billy Gilmour. We’re about to throw 483 boys his age out the game. It’s so detrimental to their development and will have a huge impact on the game.

Glasgow Times: Billy Gilmour Billy Gilmour

“We want it to be fair across the board.  No one is stopping anyone’s development and it is just one season, only due to the pandemic.”

Margaret Smyth, whose son Roland is one of the Benburb players missing out, also criticised the decision, saying: “It’s just as if there’s been absolutely no compromise and no development. These are 400 plus boys who might just end up leaving the sport. There’s the physical, mental, and social aspect. 

“These are young boys who have maybe not been working and, I can speak from my son’s experience, have spent the last year on Zoom.

Glasgow Times:

“Everyone has compromised this year, not just in football. Schools have had their exams looked at again. We appreciate it’s been an unprecedented year but other folk have been compensated in some way and these boys are just now without a team.” 

The decision has been appealed by the Lowland Development League. When approached by The Glasgow Times, the Scottish FA declined to comment.