PARENTS are outraged after a new ruling prevented their talented youngsters from turning out for a football team.
Organisers from the Russell Foster Youth Football League released a statement last weekend regarding the changes, which could affect the thousands of youngsters from the North-East who lace up their boots every weekend.
It said that clubs within the league structure will now be required to immediately de-register any players who are also registered with an Elite Player Performance Plan, at a Premier League or Football League Academy.
The new FA ruling looks set to have a devastating impact on Seaton Carew Lions under-10s, who play in the Russell Foster League.
Club chief Carl Sweeting said some of his young players were in tears when he broke the news to them that they are now banned from playing in the same team as their pals.
And one mum is so outraged after being told her son was banned form playing that she has written to David Cameron to express her disgust.
Louise Archer, whose son nine-year-old Dylan plays for Seaton, said: “How can you tell a kid that age that they can’t play with their mates because they are too good?
“It is discrimination. You couldn’t stop someone from playing because of race, gender or a disability, so why should you penalise someone for being too good?
“I’ve written to the Prime Minister and the Sports Minister about it, I’m absolutely furious.”
Carl added: “We have a pool of 32 players which is spilt into three separate teams.
“We have a team in the premier league and the fourth division, and also a team in the Teesside Junior Football Alliance.
“The games are all seven-a-side, and from our team in the premier league we have four lads who are signed for professional clubs.
“They’ve been playing together since they were four or five years old, but as of now, they won’t be allowed to play for us or we will in breach of the rules.
“The kids are upset, some of them have been in tears, and the parents are extremely annoyed about it.
“It’s frustrating because we have had these kids since they were a lot younger, we’ve developed them to the stage where they have been picked up by the professional clubs then all of a sudden they can’t play with their mates anymore.”
Dylan, a midfielder, said: “I think it’s shocking that I’m not allowed to play with my friends anymore.
“I was upset when they told me I wasn’t allowed to play because I love playing football.”
Dylan’s team-mate Ben McKinney, 10, added: “I just want to play football as much as I can, but I’m not allowed now.
“I like playing for the academy and I like playing for Seaton, I can’t see why I can’t play for both.”
Karen Cain is heavily involved with the club, with her husband Phil the main sponsor through his firm CDC Wealth Management, and her son Will, nine, captaining the team.
She said: “Will shouldn’t have to choose, he loves going to the academy.
“He has played for Seaton since he was four, and it’s not just about the games.
“The kids are all friends, the parents are too, this is like a little community and we go away together and socialise.
“This rule is splitting that all up, because if the kids aren’t playing then they will drift away. It’s a shame.
League rules on elite players
JOHN Topping, secretary of Durham County FA which governs the Russell Foster competition, said: “Following consultation between the Premier League and its clubs, representatives of the Football League, The Football Association and other key football stakeholders, the Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP), was introduced.
“At the commencement of the 2013/14 season the following rule was added to the FA Standard Code of Rules for Youth Football and until recently has not been challenged.
“The league rule states ‘No player registered with a FA Premier League or Football League Academy under the Elite Player Performance Plan will be permitted to play in this competition’.
“Following this recent challenge it has to come to light that some clubs have been playing academy players in youth games.
“Football and the league have been informed that this must cease as it contravenes FA Rules and the EPPP.”