Owner Marcus Evans rarely spouts his mouth off but his views on the Academy and the way it is treated by the football authorities makes for bleak reading.
Speaking to the official Ipswich Town club website, he vented his frustrations at the way some of the most gifted young players in the country can be enticed to leave, on the premise of a Premier dream and all those financial inducements that have their parents wetting their lips in anticipation!
Of course, part of the Evans five-point plan is to have a healthy Academy in place but if the big clubs can come along at a moments notice, and pick and choose the ripest fruit before it has time to reach fruition, then what chance is there for a successful youth policy?
It is easy to understand where he is coming from on this because there are many players that have been with the club since childhood, and yet when the big fish come stiffing around they know they can take the player for a fraction of his future worth. Take, for example, Ben Knight who joined Manchester City for around one million pounds. Now this may seem a reasonable amount to some people, and we cannot predict with any degree of accuracy, how successful he will eventually become but he had been with Town since he was eight and nurtured through to youth level, only to plucked and planted into a massive Premier League squad, with little hope of an imminent breakthrough.
Evans articulated his position resourcefully, “It is frustrating though to be put in a position where we invest in a young player from the age of nine for several years and then we are forced to lose him for a fee well below what I would consider to be a true valuation of that potential.”
And apart from Knight, who incidentally hails from Reach in Cambridgeshire, the Blues have lost a number of stunning prospects over the last few years. Who remembers Charlie Brown, who was poached by Chelsea for 6000,000 and has not seen the light of day since – or indeed Harry Clarke who left for Arsenal at just fourteen in 2015? They have gone away, perhaps never to see the light of another football day.
I can understand Evans frustrations here because it costs a great deal of money to equip these players with the skills and the training methods they require to make the grade, only for them to be stolen from our grasp – even before they make the first team squad here! This measley compensation policy; adopted by both the Football League and the Football Association might not only break Evans five-year plan but also Ipswich Town football club as a whole. The big fish continue to eat up everything around them and unless there is adequate compensation for this affront to human decency, then the beautiful game is on its last legs.
I will leave the last word on this to the owner himself. ” At the moment the tribunal valuations for the loss of a talented player to the top Premier League clubs bears no relation to the potential of the player. I’ll give you an example. We had no choice but to agree on a fee of £600,000 with a Premier League club for one of our young players with a possible additional £900,000 but only if he played 100 games for that club in the Premier League. If he played 100 games in the Premier League, at current values he’d probably be worth £30 million plus.”
F.W. – editor of Vital Ipswich