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Baby farming – An English disease?

September 9, 2009
I only need to be accepted into another school for me to move! *hint*

I only need to be accepted into another school for me to move! *hint*

First Chelski, then ManU, then Everton, and now Man City. How is it that all these big clubs are stealing kids away from their hometown club? Nevermind that, but why does it seem to me that it’s only the English clubs who are getting the fingers pointed at.

We have seen far more ‘local’ talent come out of European clubs such as Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Juventus, Roma, Inter Milan over the last 10 years than the above big four combined! Do you honestly believe that these clubs consistently product top players of international quality? I find it hard to believe. Its not that I don’t have faith in their academies, I just feel it is nigh on impossible. But if they didn’t develop them, where do these players come from? That’s right. Baby farming. And I’m going to tell you why no one has pointed a finger at them.

First of all, we acknowledge that clubs in England are run differently from clubs in the above major countries. You’d think that the structure of a club in England is more formalized than one of say in Italy, where corruption is more of a norm. It is this structure that the little clubs are taking advantage of. Smaller clubs (especially within England!) are aware of this, and have a certain advantage especially if they have documented proof of their reluctance to sell (like Michael Woods to Chelsea) prior to the transfer.

I am willing to bet that as this baby farming case is going on, scouts from the big European clubs above are somewhere in the remote areas of France, Germany, Italy, Spain happily offering the very same incentives the English clubs have been claimed to offer to break their contracts or pre-contractual agreements. Money, cars, houses. You name it. They’ve got it. But because these clubs are run not like a proper business (Barcelona and Madrid are registered as a non-profitable organisation!), they can get away with it. You may find one person, such as the owner of AC Milan, who happens to also be the PM of the entire country! Would you really want to piss off the man who can grant you a secure job for not only your son, but your entire family, yourself included?

Of course none of these will ever be documented. Perhaps the father of the next Pippo Inzaghi ‘coincidently’ applied for a promotion from his job as Janitor of a shopping complex in Cagliari, to say President of the clean toilets club, which also happened to require a move to Milan, resulting in the father taking the boy out of Cagliari’s books, and not AC Milan. The English are an easy scapegoat, but I’d like to see these little French clubs take their case against one of the other European clubs, and see the general reaction.

While these may be just one example, I don’t see why the little clubs have been offered incentives as well by the big club. Granted, this will be something most of us may never find out, unless we become the next investor to take over a big club. All I’m saying is that perhaps it is time, the fingers should also be pointed elsewhere, and not just England.


3 Comments leave one →
  1. Steve Bank permalink
    September 23, 2009 11:28 am

    I think you’ve done your own point a disservice here; with a few contradictions.

    The suggestion that only clubs in England are run as “proper businesses” (sic) is a rather specific viewpoint, and some what defamatory of, oh I don’t know, every other club and league in Europe or the world. Not to mention of course, that it’s bigoted, close minded, and frankly stupid.

    The suggestion that, using your example, Barcelona are not run as a “proper business” simply because it’s registered as a Charitable Organisation seems a bit full on. Are Charities not run properly? Do they not comply with the standard business practices laid down by the law (both domestic and/or European)?

    The suggestion that “ONLY” English teams have been implicated in this baby-farming is probably half the issue. May I offer the converse viewpoint that “only” the English teams are claiming to be holier than though about it all?

    Barcelona, Ajax, AC Milan etc. have long had histories of bringing through young talent, and no doubt, some/most/all would not have been found in their local backyard. There is no disputing that point, and i agree with you on it. The difference is that their methods are well documented, and have been in place for nigh on 40 years.

    What you have failed to point out is that teams in England have 3 things to contend with:

    • They cannot sign young players who do not live within 90 minutes drive from the club – which is not an EU rule, it’s an English rule.

    • While other clubs/leagues/systems employed a vast network of scouts and youth policies around the world from the 60s and 70s onwards; teams in England did not instead focussing on the Bobby Charlton Soccer School (and even then they relied on the kids filling in the form on the back of the panini sticker albums)

    • English teams have a sudden influx of money, in comparison to their other European counterparts.

    It’s a very simple, “proper business” if you will, procedure when you cannot supply your own assets but have the money to procure them elsewhere that you do so. There are ways and regulations to this of course, and if you’ll notice, Arsenal have not been implicated nor mentioned at all, and they have bought more youngsters to than any other English team to date.

    What might be difficult to see, and I may be wrong to presume that you are English and living inside England, is how it looks to be promoting a League/Teams/Country on the basis of “We’re the best league in the world, We’re the richest league in the world, we’re going to win the World Cup, We won the war, We’re the best, We play by the rules, We and only We are proper companies.” and then complain when someone pulls you up on it. If you claim that butter wouldn’t melt, claim to be by the book, and “proper”; and you’re found out to not be, expect people to run your nose in it.

    I think the phrase is… “people in glass houses…”.

    Then again, 1 billion pounds for an updated Wembley to be used 8 times a season in comparison to the 1% increase to under 16 football in England over 3 years should suggest that “proper” companies think they can still get away with it.


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