COUNTY football stalwart Scott Robertson has slammed the SFA's youth development strategy, claiming youngsters are being "harvested" by professional clubs.

The 35-year-old, who has been involved with youth football for 21 seasons, criticised the current development network in Scotland which he believes hampers youngsters footballing evolution and gives impressionable players false hope about turning professional.

"The current system is designed for the elite players in the country," said Mr Robertson, a former chairman of Musselburgh Windor. "Clubs sign the cream of young football talent in the country with the idea being that we would produce better players." Under the terms of the contact, 'professional' youngsters cannot play for their school team, which limits the amount of hours football starlets can play.

"It's grown to the extent that we now have a system that is harvesting players," he said.

Taking the Netherlands as a paradigm of best practice, Mr Robertson said Scotland is top heavy with 'professional' young football talent.

"Holland has a population of around 18million whereas Scotland is about 5.5million," he said. "But we have 30 youth academies and they have 12. Why do we have so many? We have gone mad here." The impact of this 'Pro Youth' strategy, said Mr Robertson, is that, having signed for a professional team, youngsters often sacrifice their education for the dream of playing football for a living.

"The reality is that very few make the grade and become professional football players," he said.

And now Robertson has launched a petition at Holyrood - backed by county MSP Iain Gray - calling for a review of the youth football system in Scotland.

It asks that the Scottish Parliament examine the legal status of minors signing SFA contracts; the distribution of public funds to SFA clubs; the social, educational and psychological effects of SFA clubs prohibiting extra curricular activity; the appropriateness of compensation payments between clubs for players under-16; developing a long-term plan to provide quality artificial surfaces for football training.

Visit for petition details.