THE prospect of working for Rangers or Celtic is apparently so alluring that both can boast former Premier League managers among their backroom staff.

Billy Kirkwood and Stevie Frail’s roles may be somewhat less high-profile than the time they spent in charge of Dundee United and Hearts respectively, but that drop-off in media exposure has not brought any resultant reduction in the levels of pressure or responsibility heaped upon their shoulders.

If anything, there is possibly even more at stake as a youth coach with either half of the Old Firm. First, there is the usual expectation that Rangers and Celtic teams, regardless of age, must always win. Secondly, there is a focus on providing players capable of one day playing in the first team.

The two aims are not mutually exclusive, especially at Celtic where excellence at youth level has become commonplace over the past decade. Tomorrow night their under-19 team face Rangers in the SFA Youth Cup final looking to complete a double, having secured the league title at the weekend.

“The biggest part of the job is getting players from the under-19s and development squad to train with the first team,” said Frail. “But at Celtic we still have to win games and it’s a balancing act at times.

“Chris McCart deserves immense credit for rejuvenating the whole set-up -- we develop the kids but also get them to win games. I don’t think we’ll develop many that are good enough for the first team without also winning leagues and cups. We have an excellent record at reserve and under-19 level but the goal is getting the boys into the first team.

“People expect these boys to win things every year and we tell them it will be like that when they step up into the first-team squad. Even at youth level you can see how much other teams want to beat them and our boys have to match that.”

Even at youth level, the finance factor is unavoidable. It seems Rangers’ monetary worries are not just restricted to the first team, with Kirkwood revealing that he does not enjoy the budget of his rivals.

“When you look at Celtic in comparison to us, even in their youths they’ve spent well in excess of £600,000, while we’re getting the likes of Kane Hemmings from Tamworth,” said the Rangers coach. “The whole financial aspect goes right through the whole club. There is not a lot of money for us to spend, either, so we’re delighted with the return we’ve had.

“It’s fantastic that these lads have done so well. Look at someone like Danny Wilson, who got his move to Liverpool. Look at Kyle Hutton, Jamie Ness, John Fleck, Greg Wylde, Andy Little -- they’ve all played in these games [the Youth Cup final] and gone on to the first team. That gives me more satisfaction than winning games.”

The demise of the SPL Reserve League means young players must now make the leap from under-19 football to the first team, a situation that Kirkwood would like to see addressed. “First team level is about five or six notches up from youth football. In Scotland, the SFA and the SPL need to look at something. We don’t have a reserve league and, after the under-19s, where do they go and play? Look at Spain, where Real Madrid and Barcelona have reserve teams playing in the lower leagues. We need to look at that.”

  • The SFA Youth Cup Final takes place at Hampden tomorrow, kick off 7.30pm. Adults £5, children/concessions £2, pay on the gate.