Livingston to shut down youth academy

Livingston's Almondvale base will no longer run youth teams
Livingston's Almondvale base will no longer run youth teams
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Livingston are to close their successful youth academy after informing parents by text that all teams would be disbanded.

The West Lothian club's youth sides are due to play their first Club Academy Scotland games later this month, but an announcement on Friday night told parents that the entire system would be shut down with immediate effect.

That will see more than 50 teenage players released and seeking clubs on the eve of their new season - leaving some of them in tears.

Reasons were not given but it is understood finances are one of many factors behind the decision as Livingston try to compete in the Premiership. They play their first home match in Scotland's top flight against Kilmarnock today after securing promotion from the Championship in May.

An official announcement is expected in the coming days, but parents and boys were told in a text message that several age-group sides at Almondvale are now being broken up. Under-15s, under-16s and under-18s will all be scrapped after under-13s and under-14s were stopped a few months ago. A reserve team will continue to operate below the first team for players on professional contracts.

The Scottish Football Association provides funding for clubs to run youth operations but the introduction of Project Brave saw Livingston lacking some criteria to be included in the higher performance tier this season.

Livingston's academy has been in operation for around two decades and was once one of the most prestigious in the country. It produced Scotland internationalists like Robert Snodgrass, Graham Dorrans, Leigh Griffiths and Murray Davidson.

Marc McNulty, Andy Halliday, Stefan Scougall, James McPake and the Jacobs brothers - Keaghan, Kyle, Devon and Sheldon - also came through the Livingston system to play at first-team level.

The decision to close it follows similar moves by clubs like Falkirk and Clyde in recent seasons.