CRAIG Mulholland, the head of the Rangers academy, last night described Scotland being the only country in Europe not having a pathway for players aged between 17 and 21 as unacceptable as he outlined the benefits of colts teams playing in the Lowland League for the Ibrox club and football in this country.

The Lowland League are currently considering an ambitious proposal to allow Celtic and Rangers colts teams to play in their division for a year – but their chairman George Fraser has spoken positively of the plan.

Speaking to Rangers TV, Mulholland admitted the Rangers hierarchy had “frustrations” with both the SFA and SPFL and stressed the need for Scotland to change to keep in touch with the leading European nations.

He said: “We believe we are the only club in Europe not to have a pathway for our 17 to 21-year-olds. In Scotland at the moment we have got an under-18 team – then there is nothing until you get to men’s first team football. That is unacceptable.

“What has happened here is George Fraser, the charman of the Lowland League, he was on the Football Innovation working group and he has come up with a solution, which is terrific. That we play in the Lowland League for one year and fill that gap that exists between academy football and first team football. We are excited about the talks that are taking place so far.

“First and foremost, the Lowland League is a members organisation and what we had to do was make sure there was benefit there for the Lowland League as well. We are very open about the fact that it benefits Rangers and we think it will benefit some of Scotland’s best young talent, but importantly there really has to be benefit for the Lowland League.

“If we look at the model, it is a one year model, which means there is no promotion or relegation. If you are a Lowland League team and have aspirations to get into the SPFL even if we won the league, the next placed team would go into the SPFL play-offs.  Nothing changes there, there is nothing detrimental to the Lowland League clubs.

“What we hope to do s bring a fan base to the league, we hope to bring a sponsor to the league, we hope we may get a broadcast deal out of our involvement. Importantly for the Lowland League, we are committed to supporting them and the authenticity of the pyramid.”

Mulholland added: “We have our frustrations with the SPFL and the SFA in terms of pushing the innovation of the B team, the strategic partnerships and everything that is contained within the football innovation paper.

“For the Lowland League, they have their frustrations that the pathway to the SPFL for aspirational clubs, for ambitious clubs, has also been closed. What I think we want to mutually do with this one year pilot is shine a light on the ambition and the aspiration of some of the really progressive clubs that exist in the Lowland League.

“We will bring real financial benefit to some of their clubs as we come out of the pandemic to some of their clubs. But at the same time, from our point of view, we will make sure that our young players are getting a really competitive environment to go and develop, hopefully pushing towards the implementation of the innovation paper in 2022/23.

“Look at Croatia as an example. They have a population similar to Scotland and they reached a World Cup final. I think it was 67 per cent of their squad who played in the World Cup finals had played in B teams in their country. There weren’t lots of B teams, it was only their three major clubs. They established the route from the academy to the first team could be challenging.

“We hear someone use the line, and this was really frustrating for us, about ‘those countries that use it are really successful countries’. That in tself perhaps indicates why we should do it. We’re not saying this is the panacea to cure all ills. We’re not. It needs to be part of a wider structure and a bigger model.”