The Scottish Football Association’s radical blueprint to overhaul youth development across the country was devised while its architects were wired to the moon having snorted several grams of cocaine, it has emerged.
SFA staff member Greg McNicol admits being present when a member of the working group charged with developing ‘Project Brave’ called his dealer in a late-night attempt to solve a collective creative block.
McNicol said, “We’d been sitting around having a few whisky’s in Craig Levein’s house arguing about how to produce better young players and someone – I think it might have been Les Gray the Hamilton chairman – said ‘fuck this. If I can get us some ching would anyone go in on a quarter?’ We all agreed some powder might get the juices flowing again so he gave his man a bell. We were at it til 8am when Roy MacGregor had to get his train back up to Dingwall. By then Project Brave was pretty much done.”
The principles underpinning the initiative are to reduce the numbers of players playing in Scotland’s professional youth academies, create a ‘best v best’ environment and ensure funding is allocated on the basis of outcomes rather than box-ticking. Controversially, all but one of the clubs on the steering group achieved ‘Elite’ status, while large parts of the country are excluded.
“Of course, the whole thing is flawed,” continued McNicol. “The arrogance, tunnel vision and self-interest that are the hallmarks of coke are written all over it. Loads of big ideas that are impossible to deliver. It’s like the Be Here Now of Scottish football. We were actually listening to that when we came up with the bit about everyone having to spend the GDP of Guatemala on coaches each year. Levein kept saying that anyone who couldn’t afford it could fuck themselves and banging on about 4-6-0.”
McNicol further revealed that St Mirren – who currently possess Five-Star academy status and operate one of the most prolific youth systems in the country – had Elite status pulled from them at the last minute.
“[SFA Performance Director Malky] Mackay had the Buddies to beat Dundee United on his coupon last week,” he explained. “He went fucking mental when they let him down for a 7-team acca and withdrew their offer. I spent last week changing every mention of ‘St Mirren’ to ‘Motherwell’.”