I have an idea fopr a trophy cvaslled the North Britain open an idea for SPL reserve sides to play against lower divsion SFL and non league teams to help develop Scottish soccer.
As we all know the 3 European sides of Germany, the Netherlands and Spain have all reached the top 3 places in the world cup of 2010. Surely it is is no coincidence that these sides allow their big clubs reserve teams to play in the lower divisions of their leagues.
We should do the same in our country so that our top young players struggling to get to Celtic and Rangers first team can get to play real sides too. Here is an idea for Scottish football.
Have the 12 SPL reserve sides play against the 10 first teams of the third divison and some non league sides in a trophy league format.
In the old days the best Scottish young player would get into the Celtic team no problem as he only had other Scottish players in his way nowadays the best Scottish player might struggle. Simply because a great foreign player is in the way. So now we need some system so that the top SPL sides can play their young players with potential in another trophy where they can develop.
In Spain and Germany the second team are run as different squads so Bayern Munich II, and Real Madrid B Barcelona B play almost as different sides. I do not think any Scottish sides other than Rangers and Celtic could afford two separate squads. So my view is we should just play the old reserve style squads we used in the past. Where a player can move week in week out from reserve to first team. So that clubs like Hamilton and Dundee would not have to pay for two squads of players, and still give their younger players another chance.
To ensure clubs did not play their first team in the reserve team trophy and that this trophy was used to develop young players rules could be used such as a rule that if as a player has played in a SPL match in the last week he cannot play in the North Britain cup. And that only 5 over 25 year olds are allowed in each squad. This would ensure you would not simply have Celtic playing their first team against sides, and that they would not tire out young players.
My format would be have have 12 SPL reserve teams, 10 third division teams and 14 non league sides from Scotland and Northern England, and 4 other reserve teams invited from other countries. The teams to invite could be Newcastle United reserves, Man Utd reserves, Sunderland reserves or the Shetlands, or even under 21 teams from Ajax and other countries.
Creating a format of 40 teams.
There would be 4 groups of 10. Each team plays eachother once. As in the six nations of rugby. Teams would play 9 matches in the group stage. I admit there would controversy over whether you play 4 or 5 home games in the group. But remember this is not a trophy about getting attendances and in the SFA cup you can have a different number of home and away games by luck of the draw.
The aim is to qualify for the final 16.
The top 4 teams of each group go through to the final 16. A straight one tie knockout then takes place until the final which is two legs.
In total teams will play 9 games if they don't get past the group stages.
Plus 5 matches if they get through all the group matches.
I think, this would allow teams to play younger reserve team players against other real sides as they do in Germany and Spain without having to place reserve sides in the actual league.