SPFL Development League

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SPFL Development League
Scottish Professional Football League.svg
Country Scotland
Founded 1998 (as Scottish Premier under-18 League)
Divisions 1
Number of teams 17
Level on pyramid 1
Relegation to N/A
Domestic cup(s) Scottish Youth Cup
Current champions Celtic
Current Season

The SPFL Development League is the top level of youth football in Scotland. It is contested by the Under-20 teams of 17 Scottish Professional Football League clubs.

The current champions are Celtic.


A youth league was founded as the Scottish Premier under-18 League in 1998. Clubs fielded under-18 teams, with the Scottish Premier Reserve League originally being an under-21 league. The competition was changed in 2003 when it became the Scottish Premier under-19 League. The teams played 22 matches rather than 30.

For the 2012–13 season, the competition changed again, this time to the Scottish Premier under-20 league, there were 15 teams, and teams played 28 matches per season.[1] With the inception of the Scottish Professional Football League for the 2013–14 season, the league become the SPFL U20 League and the number of teams increased to 16.[2] Teams were allowed to field two over-age outfield players and an overage goalkeeper.[3]

The league was renamed the SPFL Development League in 2014, with the number of teams increased to 17.[4] At this time two regional leagues were also introduced, with eight clubs competing in the Development League West and nine clubs competing in the Development League East.[5] The restriction on over-age players was relaxed, with teams now permitted to use five older players in a matchday squad of 18.[6]

European competition[edit]

From 2015 onwards, the UEFA Youth League provides a qualification route for 'domestic youth champions', in addition to clubs whose senior team reaches the UEFA Champions League group stage.[7] As the age group for the Development League is older than that of the UEFA Group League, Scotland's representative will be the winner of the Under-17 league, which plays competitive fixtures however does not reveal the results and tables publicly to minimise the scrutiny on the young players.[8] In both 2014-15 and 2015-16,[9] the winners of the Under-17 league were Celtic.

Current participants[edit]

The participants for the 2015–16 SPFL Development League season are:

Team Coach
Aberdeen Paul Sheerin[10]
Celtic Tommy McIntyre
Dundee Eddie Johnson
Dundee United Dave Bowman
Dunfermline Athletic John Potter
Falkirk Alan Maybury
Hamilton Academical Allan McGonigal
Heart of Midlothian Jon Daly[11]
Hibernian Joe McBride[12]
Inverness Caledonian Thistle Duncan Shearer
Kilmarnock Paul Stephenson
Motherwell Stephen Craigan[13]
Partick Thistle Scott MacKenzie
Rangers Graeme Murty
Ross County Steven Ferguson
St Johnstone Alec Cleland
St Mirren David Longwell

Source: SPFL Development League 2014/15 fixtures


SFL Youth League[edit]

Season[14] Winner Runner-up
1993–94 Aberdeen Celtic
1994–95 Celtic Aberdeen
1995–96 Rangers Celtic
1996–97 Dundee United Celtic
1997–98 Aberdeen Dundee United

SPL Under-18 League[edit]

Season Winner Runner-up
1998–99 Aberdeen Celtic
1999–00 Celtic Dundee United
2000–01[15] Heart of Midlothian Livingston
2001–02 Rangers Celtic
2002–03 Celtic Rangers

SPL Under-19 League[edit]

Season Winner Runner-up
2003–04 Celtic Rangers
2004–05 Celtic Motherwell
2005–06 Celtic Motherwell
2006–07 Rangers Celtic
2007–08 Rangers Celtic
2008–09 Hibernian Heart of Midlothian
2009-10 Celtic Motherwell
2010–11 Celtic Heart of Midlothian
2011–12 Celtic Heart of Midlothian

SPFL Under-20 League[edit]

Season Winner Runner-up
2012–13 Celtic Aberdeen
2013–14 Celtic Rangers

SPFL Development League[edit]

Season Winner Runner-up
2014–15 Aberdeen Celtic
2015–16 Celtic Hamilton Academical


  1. ^ "SPL to create Under-20 league". STV Sport. 12 April 2012. Retrieved 1 August 2012. 
  2. ^ "U20 League fixtures". www.spfl.co.uk. SPFL. 6 August 2013. Retrieved 6 August 2013. 
  3. ^ Waddell, Gordon (9 October 2011). "Reserve league football could return as part of SFA plan to revamp Scottish game". Daily Record. Retrieved 5 August 2014. 
  4. ^ "Development League fixture list". www.spfl.co.uk. SPFL. 7 July 2014. Retrieved 7 July 2014. 
  5. ^ "Development League East & West fixtures". www.spfl.co.uk. SPFL. 14 July 2014. Retrieved 14 July 2014. 
  6. ^ Development League kicks off, SPFL
  7. ^ "UEFA Youth League retained and expanded". UEFA.com. 18 September 2014. 
  8. ^ "Academy Teams". Hearts Youth Development Committee. Retrieved 4 February 2017. 
  9. ^ "Aitchison fires in a hat-trick as Celtic U17s seal league title". Celtic FC. 29 May 2016. 
  10. ^ "Paul Sheerin joins Aberdeen as coach after leaving Arbroath". BBC Sport. BBC. 13 June 2014. Retrieved 13 June 2014. 
  11. ^ "Hearts: Jon Daly to switch from Raith Rovers to be youth coach". BBC Sport. BBC. 4 November 2015. Retrieved 26 April 2016. 
  12. ^ Wales, Peter (3 October 2014). "Hibs appoint Joe McBride as Under-20s coach". Edinburgh Evening News. Retrieved 17 August 2015. 
  13. ^ "Former Rangers star Johansson quits Motherwell post and Craigan takes over". The Herald. Herald & Times Group. 10 July 2015. Retrieved 16 August 2015. 
  14. ^ Scottish Football Historical Archive Mirror - SFL/SPL/SPFL Youth Leagues
  15. ^ AFC Heritage - 2000-01 SPL Under-18 League Table

External links[edit]