RANGERS Chairman Dave King recently invited supporters to send in questions and below you can read the tenth part in the series as he addresses the topics raised by fans:
Changes To Football Structures
Most of the questions I received were detailed in nature and I have consolidated them into common themes for the purpose of my responses. However, a few questions were directed at gaining a better understanding of the “bigger picture” and what has been put in place over the last year to ensure the football structures are solid and not dependent on key individuals within the football management team or the Board.
These are important considerations because the Club’s football department has undergone the biggest changes since the current board took over.
- A ‘Technical Board,’ consisting of the Manager, Assistant Manager, Head of Academy, Head of Goalkeeping, Head of Recruitment, Managing Director and Director of Finance and Administration, has been established to oversee our whole football philosophy from the top of the Club to the bottom. This is in place to ensure the implementation of a Club-wide playing style, football philosophy and culture and to evaluate our progress in becoming a modern, progressive football club by measuring progress against set targets. The Technical Board also works with a player-succession planning model from our Academy through to the first team and this drives our recruitment and development needs of our most talented younger players as they move towards the first team. Evidence of our playing style can now be seen throughout all of the Rangers teams.
- The Manager deliberately has a relatively lean first-team squad to create aspiration and to ensure a pathway for young players and that all players at the Club can ‘see the first team.’
- Developing young players is a fundamental part of our business plan. Not only are there obvious financial benefits to development, but there is greater affinity between the player and the Club and from the supporters towards the player. It is difficult to replicate this with a player recruited externally. All of the clubs who have success in this area have youth development within their DNA and it is genuinely supported throughout the Club from the board down. Only with this level of commitment will we achieve success. We recognise that this is an area where the Club has had only sporadic success in the past, but to really be considered among the top European clubs we were required to radically change our Academy.
This change has commenced. We are very early in the project and we acknowledge that youth development takes time for us to see the outcomes. However, a number of positive changes are already evident. There have also been staff changes throughout the Academy ensuring we have the best qualified staff in all areas to create the best environment for the young players. For example, we are currently recruiting for a Head Development Squad Coach to work in the Academy to replace Ian Durrant, who recently moved on from the Club.
Moving away from traditional football recruitment methods, we decided to advertise to ensure that we get the best individual for the post. Each candidate will be put through a rigorous series of interviews, presentations and checks to ensure we get the correct person who will fit into our culture and who has the necessary skill set to help our players make the jump from the Academy to the first team. It is important that we develop our staff as well as our players and that we have experts in all of the disciplines.
- We are creating a ‘best v best’ culture whereby we maximise the challenge for our Academy players. This may be via top tournaments abroad, fixtures in England, playing against older players and putting players on loan to best prepare them for the first team. Each player is an individual project. We must ensure that the challenges our players face are at the correct level at the correct time in order to change the normal pathway experienced by young Scottish players. By making decisions in the interests of the player we may negatively impact on the results of some of our Academy teams. That does not matter – producing players for the first team is the only objective of the Academy. The only team that must win is the first team.
- We have the ambition to become one of the top 15 Academies in Europe and are creating an environment with our coaches sports scientists, medical, welfare and education, operations and analyst teams within the Academy to achieve this goal.
- We recently launched a partnership with Boclair Academy that will result in 24 of our best young Academy players between ages 11 and 15 leaving their own schools to attend Boclair. This will allow them to concentrate on their academic study while achieving 16 hours per week of football activity. Only with this level of contact time can we produce a much higher standard of player. This is an important initiative.
- The Academy is now split into four key sections; Children’s, Intermediate, Senior and Development squads. Each of these has a manager tasked with developing the staff and new separate age-specific curriculums. We have also become a Coerver Coaching partner club and this influences our curriculum design.
- Academy players have individual websites where they complete well-being questionnaires, receive all of their video analyses and clips and can view all of the educational presentations on areas such as diet and nutrition, etc. We have recently achieved ‘Investors in Young Peoples Status’ for our Academy as a result of the way we look after the young players and the learning environment we are creating. Developing good people with specific behavioural characteristics, growth mind sets, drive to succeed, and humility is important to us and fits well with the traditional values of our club.
We are also increasing our representation and influence on key committees to ensure Rangers are at the heart of shaping any changes made within the Scottish game – changes which everyone must acknowledge are required if we are to produce a better quality and different type of player for our country and, in our case, at Rangers.
The Club has demonstrated our commitment to the Ladies first team and Academy since we created our first squad back in 2007. Since then the Academy has grown and now boasts more than seven squads from under 12s to the first team. We have 122 Academy to first-team players with 16 girls in our elite centre. The squads train at Auchenhowie and have played games at Ibrox Stadium, which further demonstrates the Club’s commitment to investing in our female football talent. In March this year, we recruited our first full-time employee, Kevin Murphy, to work as the ladies first-team manager and oversee the girls’ Academy. This Academy mirrors the work that has been implemented within the boys’ Academy and we hope our talented young female players can progress through the ranks to help achieve their potential. There have been several players in the past few seasons that have progressed from the Academy to the first team and this remains a priority for the staff involved.
We are fully committed to continuing our support and aid for the ladies’ programme and not simply because by having a fully supported female section we are recognising our social and corporate responsibility. Perhaps more importantly, we recognise the growth in the women’s game on its own merits and we will continue to support the development of our female teams and ensure our first team keep competing in the Women’s Premier League.