ARTHURLIE under-20s boss Graham Vance admits the decision not to allow 2001 born players to compete in this season’s Lowland Development League came as a surprise.

The proposal was put forward in February, but only knocked back on Friday, leaving 483 young footballers in the vital stage of their development - their last season in development football before being either released or signed by the club’s first team - in limbo just weeks before the season was due to start.

The Scottish Lowlands Development Football League had hoped that those born in 2001 who missed out on a full year of playing last season due to the pandemic would still be allowed to take part in the upcoming campaign.

The SFA argued that this would affect the progression of younger players who would ordinarily make the step up to under-20 level and would be displaced to accommodate the increased age group request.

Vance hit out at the length of time the SFA took to come to the decision and will bid farewell to two members of his squad who are now ineligible to play for the development side.

Speaking to Barrhead Sport, he said: “Initially I was a bit taken aback because I thought that everything was done and agreed. We hadn’t heard anything since February so I assumed that everything was fine.

“I understand where everybody is coming from and my frustration is more about the length of time the decision has taken because we’ve not been able to prepare.

“We’ve only got two players who will be affected, and we are looking to get them into the first team, albeit a year earlier than what we expected.

“We’re not as affected as much as some other teams but we are still affected – they are two players I wanted to have in the squad and they offer a lot.

“We were looking to give them 12 months in training with the first team, at times, but playing with the 20s so that they are guaranteed game time instead of going to the first team just now and maybe not getting the game time that they need to develop.”

Arthurlie’s senior side were in action at the weekend as they continued their preparations for the start of competitive football on July 17, losing 3-0 to local rivals Pollok at Newlandsfield on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Neilston narrowly lost out to Auchinleck Talbot 1-0 on Saturday in the annual fixture between the sides for the Hugh Blair Trophy.

The Brig O’Lea side are next in action on Saturday as they make the short trip to New Western Park to face Renfrew with the game kicking off at 2pm.