Wallsend Boys’ Club calls on Premier League to pay up for local talent

Old boy Alan Shearer at Wallsend Boys' Club.
Old boy Alan Shearer at Wallsend Boys' Club.

One of the North East’s best known grassroots football clubs has called on the Premier League to pay for the players they recruit from local football.

One of the North East’s best known grassroots football clubs has called on the Premier League to pay for the players they recruit from local football.

Wallsend Boys’ Club has produced many well-­known Premier League players, including Newcastle United legends Alan Shearer and Peter Beardsley.

It has joined forces with Didsbury-­based Fletcher Moss Rangers, who have also produced a host of top­-flight talent like Sunderland’s Wes Brown and ex-Black Cat Danny Welbeck to call for top­-flight clubs to give back financially for the local talent they sign.

Both clubs, like most at their level, rely heavily upon donations, sponsorship and constant fundraising to pay for what they do, while seeking grants to cover the cost of establishing and improving their facilities.

Wallsend did benefit from FIFA’s solidarity payment system back in 2014 when goalkeeper Fraser Forster, a product of the boys’ club, moved to Southampton from Celtic.

The system entitles grassroots club which developed any players between their 12th and 23rd birthdays to a five per cent share of the fee in international transfers.

However, there is no cash relationship between professional and grassroots clubs when the former look to recruit from the latter at age­-group levels, despite the fact that movement between Academies can trigger payments running into thousands of pounds.

Ian Riley, football development officer at Wallsend, said: “With the money that goes into the Premier League, ideally what I would like to see is every Premier League club have, say £1million, and each year, they would share that amount between local clubs.

“At the end of the day, I know Newcastle are not producing players from the area, but they are still taking the best talent.”

Wallsend fear they could lose six members of their current Under­-11s team to Newcastle, while Fletcher Moss currently do not have an Under­-14s team this season because Rochdale signed seven of last season’s Under-­13s after initially asking to take the entire squad.

And Fletcher Moss development officer Dave Horrocks has argued there should be a system in place which rewards community clubs for the work they do in producing players who are subsequently snapped up by professional clubs - some of them at the age of just eight.

He said: “I firmly believe that if a player is signed to an Academy as an Under­-9, the club that they are with should be paying something back to the organisation which developed him initially.

“I know we are not giving them the Academy training, but they don’t just appear on Academy grounds.

“They are here at the grassroots, being worked with by people who are putting time in day-in, day-out within an organisation.

“If a club like Newcastle, Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool or whoever, have got a player as an Under-­9, they should pay something back to that club; if they stay in the system as an Under­-10, they should pay something again; and as an Under­-11, pay something again.”