Hibs’ partnership with Spartans has been strengthened with the Easter Road club announcing their Under-20 side will play their home matches at Ainslie Park.
The two outfits had already revealed an agreement to jointly run a “Transition Academy” aimed at creating the best “development pathway” for young football players in Scotland, initially focusing on the most promising eight to 11-year-olds identified by the coaches of both clubs.
But now, starting with the mini derby against Hearts on Tuesday, August 19 (kick off 7.45pm), Hibs’ youngsters will call the Lowland League club’s ground home for their Development League games.
Today, George Craig, Hibs’ head of football operations, revealed the move was designed to create a matchday experience for the club’s youngsters with supporters encouraged to go along to give them their backing, describing Ainslie Park as the “perfect setting” to develop and prepare them for life in the first team.
He said: “Young players who are developing need to play their games in a stadium environment, not just catapulted into playing at Easter Road in front of 10,000 or 12,000 fans.
“We were keen to get an established home venue that would allow supporters who are looking to follow the progress of our young players easier access.
“We would hope that through time we will get a regular following for the matches, but would emphasise that these matches are designed to assist the technical and tactical development of the player and are not part of a competitive league competition. By all means we want supporters to go along but with the understanding what you are seeing is young players developing.
“That may mean a youngster appearing to being played out of position when, in fact, he’s playing there because that’s what has been decided as part of his development. The whole process is simply designed to get talented players from the academy into the first team as early as possible.
“To further assist the development process the league rules allow each club to play a number of overage players. Senior players will benefit from additional game time, but will also be required to provide on-field support to our young players.
“It is also very likely that, as the season progresses, promising young players from the academy will begin to appear regularly as they, too, continue their development.”
Entry to Hibs’ Under-20 matches at Ainslie Park will be by donation (suggested £5 for adults, £3 for concessions and Under-16s free) with the money going towards funding the new Transition Academy.