Hearts have been placed in the ‘Elite’ tier of the Scottish FA’s new academy structure, in what is the latest step in Project Brave.
Applicant clubs were graded according to a criteria-based system, and Hearts’ football academy has been named in the top bracket of clubs in Scotland.
Enhanced funding will be awarded to the club in order to achieve Measureable Performance Outcomes, which in turn will encourage best practice with the goal of harnessing the success of strategic planning and creating a more efficient pathway to first-team football.
Aimed at improving the overall standard of young Scottish footballers, Project Brave hopes to enhance the domestic game and boost the national team in their efforts.
Speaking about today’s findings, Hearts’ Academy Manager Roger Arnott said: “We are delighted to be awarded ‘Elite’ status because a major part of our overall strategy is to develop young players and it is something we take very seriously.
“The recent inclusion of younger players in the first-team is a marker of our continued commitment to developing talented young players for the benefit of both Hearts and Scotland.
“We look forward to working with other clubs to push the standard of young players and raise the profile of the game in Scotland.”
Scottish FA Performance Director Malky Mackay said: “This is a significant milestone for Project Brave.
“Club Academy Scotland is a fundamental part of the process and a lot of work has gone into developing the criteria used to assess the clubs.
“From Day One this has been a collaborative activity.
“The clubs have been engaged at every step, with daily dialogue to help with their applications.
“We have been heartened and inspired by so many of the positive things we have seen in regards to the development of young Scottish footballers and our aim is to assist clubs and encourage them to hit the highest possible standards.
“What I would like to stress is that the bandings are not fixed and they will be reassessed in June 2018.
“No door is closed to clubs outside of the Elite bracket with aspirations to move up.
“As a result of the conversations we had with clubs, a new middle tier was created.
“The ‘Progressive’ category was designed to ensure ‘smaller’ but ambitious clubs with academies could find their natural place in the system, with scope to push on.
“For those in the top tier, we will continue to monitor their work in conjunction with our independent auditors.
“This is only one more step but we believe it’s a crucial one.”