Victory for Under-20s as 'the 483' get green light to play in Lowlands Development League
Nearly 500 young footballers in Scotland have been given the green light to play the game next season after it was agreed to extend the age group in one of the country's main development leagues.
The Scottish Lowlands Development League – a programme for Under-20s providing players for senior clubs in the Lowland League and below – had been denied permission to use overage players who missed a full campaign when the coronavirus pandemic mothballed youth football in Scotland
The Lowland League wanted to extend the age limit for the 2021/22 season only before returning to normal but Scottish football chiefs refused the request, leaving 483 players in the uncertain position of needing to find new clubs and development teams left decimated by the potential departure of several bodies.
League bosses had written to the Scottish FA last week urging a rethink, while many of those affected formed a pressure group using the social media hasthag #LetThe483Play.
However, with the Development League due to start on July 30, an agreement has been reached allowing the division to extend the upper age limit to Under-21 for the 2021/22 campaign.
The Scottish Youth FA has also indicated that it will extend their age limits to include Under-22 players on a one-season basis.
A statement read: “The Scottish FA can confirm that agreement has been reached across the game to allow the Scottish Lowland Football Development League to extend the age group limit to Under-21 for season 2021-21.
"The decision enables around 400 players who would otherwise have become ‘over-age’ to remain eligible to participate in the coming season’s development league. The Scottish Youth FA will also extend their age limits to include Under-22 players for the coming season only.
”Initially, concerns were raised about the potential negative impact on the player pathway should an extension be permitted to one element of the game in isolation.
"Due consideration and discussion was required to ensure that no other age groups across the game were adversely affected by any changes.
"The Scottish FA would like to thank the Scottish Youth FA and SLFL for their collaborative approach to reaching an amicable solution.”