STEWART Regan, the SFA chief executive, has been warned that he is effectively forcing Ladbrokes Championship clubs to put their futures at risk in an attempt to meet criteria for Project Brave. Herald Sport understands that Martin Ritchie, of Falkirk, and Warren Hawke, of Morton, sat down with the SFA supremo at Hampden Park shortly after he returned from Slovenia this weekend to register their concerns on behalf of the entire second tier about what is being expected of them under the association’s ambitious new plans to re-shape their Club Academy Scotland system.

The news comes hot on the heels of suggestions at the weekend that even the top flight is divided about the merits of the association’s new flagship scheme, with Ross County chairman Roy MacGregor – one of the architects of the plan – unhappy about how the plan is unfolding.

With an appeals process already under way, each one of Scotland’s aspiring ‘pro youth’ academies will go before the SFA’s Professional Game Board by the end of this month to learn the fate of their application to be part of this new structure, with the top 16 academies likely to be split between 'elite' academies and those working towards that status, then the rump of all other clubs comprising a third tier.

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These decisions will be taken on the strength of criteria such as Measurable Performance Outcomes relating to the amount of first team appearances and Scotland caps, plus numbers of full-time staff and access to certain facilities such as full-size indoor training arenas. There is anger that little heed is paid to exactly how much of a club's turnover that spend comprises, the fact that certain clubs may currently be competitive at a certain age group, or benefit more than others from their proximity to SFA-backed schemes such as the Oriam centre at Heriott-Watt University.

While the so-called ‘big five’ seem likely to be granted elite status – Celtic, Rangers, Aberdeen, Hearts and Hibs - the future of the scheme may now depend on whether the apparent solidarity between the other Premiership clubs with their Championship cousins holds. Although the SFA insist that the money currently awarded to the youth academies who don’t make it into the top two levels will be ring fenced, Regan could yet find himself with friends in short supply fenced if such a small number of clubs are perceived to be calling the shots.