West Brom fury as Chelsea snatch starlet, but should youngsters stick with their clubs?

In 2008 the shrinking violet that was Crystal Palace former chairman Simon Jordan, proclaimed the Football League tribunal’s decision that Tottenham should pay £700,000 for John Bostock as “scandalous”.

Now looking back with the benefit of hindsight Jordan will have many supporters to his assertion, probably most notably Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy.

The two clubs had been unable to agree a fee for the player who had just become Palace’s youngest ever first team debutant at 15 years and 287 days.

His ability had earned him the captaincy of his country at Under17 level and also speculation linking him with Barcelona, Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea.

When it became clear that Bostock wanted to leave Selhurst Park for north London, Palace demanded a fee of £2.5million for a youngster they had nurtured for nine years, it was a figure that Spurs were unwilling to pay.

The fact that If Bostock progressed into anything like the player that Palace had envisaged, they would have received a further £1.45m based on appearances as well as 15% of any profit that Spurs made from a future sale, did little to dispel Jordan’s rancour.

Following the tribunal’s judgment he queried the folly of a club Palace’s size investing millions into youth development when their best prospects can be plucked away for a relative pittance.

West Bromwich Albion chairman Jeremy Peace is probably asking himself that very same question this morning.

His clubs prodigious 16-year-old talent Isaiah Brown is reported to be training with Chelsea ahead of a proposed move to the London club; this is despite a recent Blues offer for the player being rejected.

 The Baggies spent £2.5milion to upgrade their academy facilities and plough in a further £2.5million per year to fund youth player development; this has earned them the highest ranking category one status in the new Elite Player Performance Plan youth system.

However due to a push by the larger clubs there is free movement of players between category one teams, in addition U-12’s to U-16’s have a set price of £209,000, consequently as it stands this is the figure that West Brom will receive for the teenager.

The West Midlands club however are arguing that the new EPPP rules were not in place when Brown turned 16 in January and are therefore trying to negotiate a better deal with Chelsea.

If there is no agreement the matter looks set to go down the same route as the Bostock saga, with a tribunal tasked with deciding the fee.

As if all that wasn’t bad enough for Albion it now appears that they are about to lose the apparent successor to the Isaiah Brown high chair, with 14-year-old midfielder and internet star Yan Dhanda purported to be on his way to Liverpool.

A small consolation for West Brom and as small consolations go, it’s pretty minute, is that local rivals Aston Villa seem set to befall the same unjust fate with Dan Crowley, their 16-year-old midfielder who has been dubbed the new Jack Wilshere said to be on the verge of joining the old Jack Wilshere at Arsenal.

It does seem that the bigger clubs are holding all the cards in these situations, sadly the only hope for clubs like West Brom and Villa is that these players fail as dismally as Bostock did at Spurs.

This maybe the only way to encourage others that gratuitous haste in chasing the big move to a big club isn’t necessarily the best method of fast tracking their career.


Allen Whyte