Date: 9th July 2013 at 10:50am
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West Bromwich Albion have turned down a suggested offer from Chelsea for Isaiah Brown.

Jeremy Peace was quite vocal recently, and quite right when you look at the details, when it comes to the points he was making about the Elite Player Performance Plan, and having already lost one youngster to Liverpool, Albion appear to be digging in when it comes to Brown.

Whether we are successful or we make the point purely on principle, it’s about time the game gained some.

Speaking to Richard Garlick again explained that the club were due compensation for investing time, money and effort into 16 year old Brown during his three years at the club, leading to him agreeing to sign scholarship forms but, Chelsea’s offer to settle this matter wasn’t good enough.

‘We are disappointed by Chelsea’s offer. We have invested a lot of time and money in Isaiah’s development as a player and – as one of our most exciting Academy products in recent years – we had hoped to bring him through into our first team. But Chelsea have forced our hands and we are more than prepared for the matter to be decided by a tribunal if needs be. More importantly, it makes you question why these young players are joining bigger clubs when they are likely to gain more first team opportunities in the Premier League at clubs similar to us.’

It’s a very fair point, and references again the point Peace made about why invest £2.5m to get to the standard of Category One Academy Status with a further £2.5m investment per season – which should standardise the level of training and development available – when Category One clubs can poach others.

Clubs the size of Chelsea could basically save themselves £5 odd million, let everyone else pay, and then nick them at will.

Granted, it’s probably not that simple!

As you could also argue the really talented youngsters will head for the likes of Chelsea, and then at the last minute for very low compensation join a club the size of Albion to shine for a season and boost their prospects for a big money move.

Sideways deals at Category level just seem wrong though, and I don’t think Garlick is wrong to ask the question.

The EPPP seems an attempt to improve the standard in the English game across the board with the ultimate aim of providing better and more consistent quality for the National team.

That surely can’t be achieved by a core few clubs snapping up all the talent, where they are rarely seen again until at the age of 23-24 they are released as they haven’t made the first team grade – which rarely happens unless you play competitive games as part of your development anyway. Tasters in the cups, in the league, numerous loans starting maybe at Division Two and as their experience grows you bring them closer to the level you are at – whilst also given them plenty of game time at U21 level.

A development team for those who make U21 level can only contain so many players and give each of those players the necessary match time to prepare them for a loan spell, surely.

Then you have those who don’t make it, as they progress through the U17 etc age groups who could well have done, had they played more throughout their time on scholarship.

Unless I’ve missed something obvious here, which could well be the case, the current freedoms in the system seem to promote wastage and leave otherwise very talented players behind, and whereas some will forge good careers at whatever level due to natural talent and motivation.

What about those who grow disallusioned? What about those who lose too much development time for them to catch up to the potential they could’ve become?

Wouldn’t the solution be no sideways movement in Categories, that way players with slower development or less talent will drop levels but gain the support they need, and those with clear talent will rise to the top with the support they need – and then they can decide at the age of 18 which ‘professional contract’ is right for them, and if not the club who nurtured them, they receive a fair market value to recompense them?

At least a few clubs couldn’t stockpile anybody that way and inadvertantly hold them back.

Yes, it could be done at 18, but the developing club would gain financially and profit making it a worthwhile system, and at 18 a player is allowed to sign for whoever they consider offered the best deal anyway.

The great might make the grade, the greedy might fall through – players will still get lost through bad choices, but that’s life.

If a player can vote, drink and buy cigarettes without having to relearn a birthday if asked or secure a fake ID, and even become a stripper if they wanted…I’m sure they are old enough to run the risk of throwing away a promising career for a very early extra zero on a paycheque.

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