RANGERS Football Club can confirm the Development squad has withdrawn from the SPFL Reserve League for season 2019/20.
Following an evaluation of last season’s Reserve League the decision has been taken to instead embark on a games programme which will test young players against teams from across Europe.
The club’s Development squad took part in a similar programme in season 2017/18 facing the likes of Bayern Munich, Liverpool, Manchester City and Feyenoord.
Rangers joined the new SPFL Reserve League last season after it replaced the Under-20’s League and went on to be crowned champions in May.
Director of Football, Mark Allen commented: “During my time at the highest level of Academy football in England and now in Scotland I have maintained that it is critical that we expose our young players to matches against men as early as possible, while combining the teaching of a playing style which will equip our players for the modern game now and in the future.
“It is clear that the ‘B’ team concept, which is utilised with great success in many countries throughout the world, is the obvious answer to the difficulties faced by players transitioning from the Academy to a first team.
“We are frustrated that the decision making process in Scotland has prevented us from introducing a ‘B’ team proposal that they have been able to implement so successfully in so many other nations, it was incumbent on us therefore to again be innovative, as were two years ago, and ensure that this disappointing decision does not impact negatively on the development of our talent.
“We are now looking forward to the new season with excitement as we have managed to create a games programme which combines competitive men’s football, with some great European challenges which our players will thrive in.”
Having won the Under-18 league last season, qualification has been gained to the UEFA Youth League allowing the Under-19’s to compete in Europe’s top youth competition for the first time.
The Glasgow Cup format will change and will provide competition against men’s first team sides from Clyde, Queens Park and Partick Thistle, while the club will again compete with an Under-21 team in the SPFL Challenge Cup.
Head of Academy, Craig Mulholland said: “We have undertaken a detailed comparison of the last two seasons. We are convinced that creating this new programme combining a real variety of experiences and challenges will provide the maximum benefit to our players.
“Last year we initiated a games programme against our Europa League opponents Rapid Vienna and Spartak Moscow and when we compared the GPS data from these matches against the majority of reserve games, there was a significant difference in the physical output of our players.
“In truth we did not need the data as we could see the concentration levels, the tactical problems needing solved and the intensity and effort levels of our lads making it really clear that in the European games they were having to compete at a completely different level, indeed at the very edge of their capabilities. These outcomes were also replicated in our Challenge Cup match with Falkirk’s first team.
“Both of these scenarios were simply not replicated in the Reserve league and are something our players must experience more of on a weekly basis if we are to best prepare them for Rangers first team.
“The players and staff will be excited by the challenge, quality and variation they will face in this year’s excellent fixture list.”
During pre-season Graeme Murty and Peter Lovenkrands’ side will take part in matches against Chelsea, Manchester United and Ajax while also playing first team sides from Crusaders, Ayr United and Cambridge.
A full fixture list for the upcoming season will be announced in early July.