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HELLO ALBERT, HELLO SPION KOP!
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HELLO ALBERT • ISSUE 23

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Fan Profile – Dave Abley
Nursery Taleswhat others are saying
Fans Forum – #1


[Albert Cover 23]EDITORIAL – NURSERY TALES, WHAT OTHER'S ARE SAYING

Kevin Ratcliffe described them as a bit of a hot potato but Don Howe thinks they are the answer. It all depends which perspective you take, but Nursery or Feeder clubs are still quite topical.

Writing in his weekly column in the Sports Argus (22nd February 1997) Don Howe comments on the recent special understanding that Crewe and Liverpool announced recently (14th Feb). It is not an official Nursery Club arrangement – Graham Kelly, FA supremo, stated that he had not been notified at all. As far as Don Howe is concerned, however, it is the answer.

“I believe it is a wonderful opportunity to develop our young players even further...... For me the development of our young players is of paramount importance – even more so if we are to continue to see foreign stars coming over to play in this country. That’s why I contend it is important Liverpool should “loan” out their promising young professionals to a lower division club like Crewe and vice versa if the Premier club takes a fancy to a youngster from the Second Division outfit.”

Howe looks at it purely from the point of view of bringing on young football talent and doesn’t touch on the sensibilities of the supporters of lower league sides. He notices the beginning of the end of reserve team football and believes there are many in between players who would benefit from a nursery scheme.

Newcastle are currently operating without a reserve side. Some might argue this has counted against them in that a player like Darren Huckerby, who has been sensational since his transfer to Coventry, would have been more content if they had. So Howe suggests the adoption of a nursery scheme, similar to the one which operates in Italy. The main objection he sees, is how it might upset the fairness of competition between clubs in the lower leagues.

An imaginative solution to this particular problem was put forward by Hereford’s chief executive in the programme against Chester in November. Robin Fry suggests, “From a personal viewpoint I think a far fairer way would be for the Premiership clubs to allocate a certain amount of young professionals that then would be allocated to 2nd and 3rd Division clubs only, similar to the draft system that works in America. This might see us having four or five players from various Premiership clubs, who would be contracted to us for a complete season but the player’s relevant club would still pay their wages. This would give the clubs like ourselves some quality young players who would benefit from the experience of playing in the Football League, but reduce our overheads which could save a club like ourselves between £100,00 and £150,000 a year Obviously there will be an element of luck in what players you receive....” Some imaginative thinking in addressing the problem then by the Hereford M.D.

When we turn to what some of the fans themselves think, however, much of the imagining is of a worse case scenario. Ed Horton, for instance, Oxford Utd. fan and scourge of the commercial machinations of contemporary football, is scathing of the idea of nursery clubs in WSC (April 1997):-

“At present, quite rightly, no team can own another. Rick Parry wants that to change. So do Alan Sugar and John Hall. It is flavour of the month. We are offered security, we must be realistic, feeder status may be better than nothing, it may be the only solution. It may indeed, if you think that committing suicide is the only solution to your problems.”

Do I detect a note of cynicism? Absolutely. “I have yet to meet a single fan who thinks that feeder status is a solution for their clubs.” says Horton. “What would we get for our money if we watched a nursery side?” he continues, “The deal we are offered is that we would get international stars and exciting new talent playing at a level where we never see them now. What we would actually get ... would be injured players, playing themselves back to fitness for half the game or sixty minutes.” This would be no better than reserve team football, he argues. The pressure for change, he argues, is coming from the chairman of the richer clubs. They would get young players developed without having to pay transfer fees for them. Also “The press, always ready to advise us to be realistic, have had nothing to say.

For all the talk about clubs struggling to survive financially – “it is amazing how durable, how resilient football is .... we still have 92 professional football clubs Feeder status is not a solution. It is an execution.” Horton concludes.

Perhaps the final word ought to go to a Crewe supporter, Jules Hornbrook – the editor of “Super Dario Land”, no less

“Numerous arguments exist either side of the fence, but surely the media, clubs, and sadly, many supporters are missing the point: Crewe Alexandra are being stripped of their identity football isn’t about sense. I’m sick of references to other industries, that you have to move on...supporters are brand loyal...sometimes to the point of insanity. Too much passion has already been stripped from the game, and this takes us all another step towards a nondescript system where results are insignificant and razzamatazz is all.” (WSC May 1997) Colin Mansley

Albert

ISSUE 23 Fan Profile – Dave Abley
Nursery Taleswhat others are saying
Fans Forum – #1
 
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