MARK Wotte, the former SFA performance director, has warned his previous paymasters that it will be a disaster for the future of Scottish football if the association’s network of performance schools is disbanded. The SFA board are embarking upon a root-and-branch review of the scheme, which costs around £700,000 per annum, with one line of thinking being that the governing body are attempting to do too much and should leave youth development in the hands of the clubs.

Now at Al Wahda in Abu Dhabi, the Dutchman who was instrumental in establishing the scheme after his arrival in post in 2011 told Herald and Times Sport that the scheme has proved its worth. The likes of Chelsea’s Billy Gilmour, Liam Morrison of Bayern Munich and Harry Cochrane of Hearts are among players to have benefited from this part of the pathway, which sees extra football lessons built into timetable of hand picked pupils at schools in Aberdeen, Dundee, Motherwell, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Falkirk and Kilmarnock.

“When I arrived in Scotland it was 2011 and I always said that it was a long -term prospect that we could bear the fruits of in 2020, when the boys are 20,” said Wotte. “Everyone at the SFA has invested a lot of time, money, effort and commitment to the development of youth over that period. Of course, you need the co-operation of the clubs because when they are 16 they leave the performance school and they go into the clubs programme.

“But I haven’t seen another project like this anywhere else in the world, and I have travelled a lot in the last eight or nine years,” he added. “If they were to shut down the programme, that would be a disaster for the future of Scottish football.

“Everyone has seen there are a lot of youngsters with a performance school background who have made first-team debuts with clubs - there is a player playing for Chelsea at the moment too, so that is a fantastic achievement. It is like a journey. If you are halfway through, you can have a review, no problem. But if you are nearly at the finish and you shut it down you are wasting a lot of money.”