STUART BROWN, the chairman of Stirling Albion, has defended his club's stance of refusing to join the Scottish Football Association-backed Forth Valley Football Academy based at the university within their own city.

Mark Wotte, the SFA's performance director, spoke this week of his disappointment at the SPFL League 1 side's decision to keep their academy programme separate from the joint operation which integrates the youth set-ups of Falkirk, Stenhousemuir and East Stirlingshire.

However, Brown claims that Stirling would be committing financial suicide by getting involved. "We sat in the boardroom with Mark and his colleagues when they were launching the pilot of the regional academy and I told him that it wasn't right for Stirling Albion," he said.

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"We have four teams playing at youth development level and the SFA, as we fully meet the criteria, provide a considerable financial amount in excess of £30,000-a-season. The cost of putting a single player into the regional academy is £1000-a-player - if we gave up the £30,000 and then had to pay the £1000 fee, we would go from having a cost-neutral set-up into spending money we do not have.

"To say they integrate the youth systems of Falkirk, Stenhousemuir and East Stirlingshire isn't telling the whole story. Falkirk and Stenhousemuir have probably gone into an organisation that saves them money because of the size of their original youth systems, while East Stirling have a very small number of players involved."