Opinion – Forget about the Lowland League, bring back the Reserves

Ditch the Lowland League and bring back the Reserves…

 Daniel Kelly of Celtic is seen during the Celtic v Buckie Thistle – Scottish Cup match at Celtic Park on January 21, 2024. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

There has been plenty of criticism of the Celtic B side and its participation in the Lowland League. There’s even an opinion held by many that it’s one of the reasons why many youngsters fail to make the grade at Celtic Park while other youngsters are reluctant to commit their futures and ultimately head elsewhere.

Those could be a valid points. The Lowland League, without sounding disrespectful, isn’t of a high standard. It’s full of youngsters and ex-pros who failed at senior level and ageing pros who don’t want to call it a day just yet.

It’s been an experiment that has failed as far as Celtic is concerned with little or no benefit in terms of first team breakthroughs. And even the top players from the Academy have found their route to the first team blocked and they are being sent back to play at a lower level of players that for instances their international teammates at U19 and U21 level will be playing against. That’s certainly the situation Rocco Vata has found himself in while away with Ireland – where he was playing his football at the lowest level in the young Irish team.

That’s why it makes perfect sense to pull the B side out and make plans to put in place a reserve league similar to what we used to rely on in the past. It contained a mixture of players who were knocking on the door of the first team, players coming back from injury and our own promising youngsters.

Solid pros who were out to impress in a competitive environment. The youngsters would learn so much more playing against such players than they would in the fifth tier of Scottish football. It’s no wonder the quality of homegrown talent in this country is of a low standard. The only way to fix that is to improve playing standards, and a reserve league is a step forward in the right direction.

Not only will it improve the quality of the youth players it would also benefit the many senior pros who are struggling for much needed game time. This is a decision that theRangers took last summer, so there are not even Glasgow Derby matches in the B team’s league calendar, although admittedly Hearts have now joined Celtic in the Lowland league and after a difficult first campaign they finished much higher than Celtic B who were mid table last season. That too tells its own story.

 Odin Holm scores his team’s second goal during the the Celtic v Buckie Thistle – Scottish Cup match at Celtic Park on January 21, 2024 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

As a club Celtic won the Scottish Premiership and the SWPL1 titles but Celtic B finished 6th behind East Kilbride, Hearts B, Bo’ness, Cumbernauld Colts and Tranent, although we did manage to ‘achieve’ a higher finishing spot that Civil Service Strollers, Linlithgow Rose, Albion Rovers, Cowdenbeath, University of Stirling, Caledonian Braves, Berwick Rangers, East Stirlingshire, Broomhill, Gala Fairydean Rovers, Gretna 2008 (that other new club) and bottom placed Edinburgh University.

Elite football this is not. This is more low-level than lowland football and Celtic as a club needs to recognise this and do something about it.  Brendan Rodgers is looking at re-structuring the club’s football department based on his knowledge of elite level football in the Premier League. Where does having our academy players playing in the Lowland League fit in with that? How many minutes did the Celtic B team squad get in the Scottish Premiership last season, Daniel Kelly apart?

Vata and Kelly are the two players who could make an impact at Celtic yet neither seems that interested in putting pen to paper amid significant interest elsewhere. What is the point of Celtic participating in the Lowland League and actually paying for the ‘privilege’? You tell me because I can’t see the point at all.

Rocco Vata currently has a choice of playing Lowland league football (the fifth tier of the game in Scotland) or starting for Watford in the second tier of English football, playing in a league full of teams with Premier League aspirations including the three relegated from the Premier League last season.

Brendan Rodgers shakes hands with Odin Thiago Holm of Celtic after the Scottish Premiership match between theRangers and Celtic at Ibrox Son September 03, 2023 (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

I wonder what Brendan thinks about it, maybe that’s a question that The Celtic Star will ask him the first time we are in at Lennoxtown for a media conference in the new season. And incidentally, the coverage of the Celtic B team in the Celtic fan media decreased considerably last season, perhaps that’s also an indication of the failure of the experiment? It was worth a try but now it’s time to pull out and get back to re-establishing a proper reserve league for the Scottish Premiership and a better pathway for the Celtic Academy stars in the years ahead.

Just an Ordinary Bhoy

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About Author

An ordinary everyday Celtic supporters hailing and still residing in Govan in the shadows of the enemy. I’m a season ticket holder. I Witnessed my first Celtic game in 1988 and have attended when I can ever since. Growing up in the 90s I witnessed Celtic at their lowest, and now appreciate the historic success we enjoy today. I enjoy writing about this wonderful football club and hopefully will continue to do so. I’ve always been a keen writer and initially started this a hobby. My ambition is to one day become as good an author as my fellow Celtic Star colleagues.


  1. While I agree with you that our youngster in the B team need the level of competition they would get in a reserve league, if I remember correctly the old reserve league was gotten rid of because a lot of clubs couldn’t afford to field teams for it.
    There would need to be some plan in place to deal with that issue if the reserve league was to be resurrected

  2. The B league is of no real value to anyone – the other teams in it don’t even want us there. It doesn’t just affect us – how many exciting young talent do we see at any other SFPL clubs ? Make participation in a reserve league a condition of being in the top league. Or join whatever the EPL youth/development set up is. The Celtic website shows almost 30 academy coaches – who are producing next to nothing. If Vata etc were good enough they would be on the team – if Watford is their level then so be it. Spot ability then allow guys to have game time – Scales was noone’s idea of a first choice CH but he got his chance and took it. Like Tierney and McGregor did.

  3. Vata and Kelly are not interested in putting pen to paper on another B team contract. Both have already scored for the 1st team. How about picking them ahead of injured foreign duds like Hatate, Oh and Bernardo. Tierney was 17 when Deila gave him his debut 9 years ago. Ange freed Dembele at 19 without ever starting a game for Celtic like our current prospects – currently available on a free. Either the board and/or managers don’t want these boys to play. Why?