Aberdeen have restructured their youth set-up in a bid to improve their development of future first-team players.
Gothenburg Great Neil Simpson has been appointed the club’s first pathways manager.
He will work with Dons boss Stephen Glass on mentoring emerging players and helping source suitable loans that will aid their preparation for first-team football.
Director of football Steven Gunn said: “Neil’s experiences as a young player himself at Aberdeen, and then going on to achieve the top prizes in the game, will be invaluable in guiding and mentoring our top young talent towards the first team.
“Neil’s passion remains in developing players and he’s also looking forward to having a greater involvement on the training pitch.”
With Simpson taking on a new role, Gavin Levey has been promoted to the role of academy director and will oversee the club’s revised pathways strategy.
Levey will led the three key areas of youth development: the foundation phase, youth phase and development phase.
Gunn said: “Gavin has been a leader in youth development in Scotland and, again, carries a wealth of experience.
“He’s led the review of the academy’s coaching philosophy over the last few years in his previous role as head of academy coaching and will now work towards developing the performance support functions.
“He will also be responsible for the club’s coach development mentoring programme.”
The restructuring has also resulted in Barry Robson being appointed development phase manager with overall responsibility for the under-17 and under-18s, where he will be lead coach.
Scott Anderson will assist Robson with the under-18s.
The club will appoint a youth phase manager to oversee the under-13 to under-16 groups, while Liam McGarry will continue to head up the club’s under-10 to under-12s and pre-academy programmes.
Gunn said: “The under-18s have had a challenging period through the last 12 months and with Barry and Scott taking on specific responsibility for this training group with a more structured programme, we’re further improving the training environment.
“This is a club model that we believe can enhance the youth academy and further develop the pathway to first team football.
“The positive changes we have made will help us better connect the academy and first team and the creation of new roles further demonstrates our commitment to developing young talent.”
Pathway to first team
Manager Stephen Glass is supportive of the changes and believes the new structure will help develop a pathway for youngsters who come through the club’s youth academy.
He said: “These positive developments will give us greater opportunity to support players with the transition from academy to professional football.
“Our strategy remains to develop the player pathway to get players to a level where they can play regularly in a successful Aberdeen first team.
“We’ve all got a responsibility to ensure that happens and I’m looking forward to working with Neil, Gavin and the wider coaching team to achieve this.”