October 20, 2008
Many of us will have been following the career of Scott Sinclair very carefully since he signed for Chelsea pretty much straight from school just a few seasons ago. Scott had been with us at the Bristol Rovers Academy from eight years of age and had always looked a very promising young player indeed.
We thought Scott to be an immensely exciting prospect and very talented. So much so that he was given his League debut by us at a tender young age. Against our honest judgement and advice Scott went on to sign for the London giants, snatched from our grasp as some would see it including myself. Because Scott had yet to sign a professional contract with Bristol Rovers there was no offer or negotiated fee for his services and all the years we contributed to his development appeared to be in vain.
Congratulations to Scott for reaching the landmark of ten first team appearances for Chelsea when he came off the bench as a substitute in the latest round of Carling Cup encounters. Many will have understood or will have read in the newspapers that the appearance also marked a further compensation payment to the football club. Very welcome of course but nothing like what I would expect to be Scott’s true value in today’s transfer market.
Just like the professional players, a good number of youngsters will move to Premier League clubs if the opportunity arises and, as is becoming increasingly common, at ever younger ages. In such cases clubs may come to an agreement for compensation to be paid but in a good number of instances they may not.
The professional game’s method for determining the amount of compensation when clubs’ valuations differ and agreement is not reached is through the Professional Football Compensation Committee (PFCC). The PFCC is incorporated under the rules of both The Football League and the Premier League and forms part of the collective bargaining agreement with the Professional Footballers Association.
PFCC hearings take place on an agreed date with each club required to provide evidence to support their valuation of the player. In reaching a decision the committee into account the following:
The costs of both clubs operating a Football Academy or Centre of Excellence
The age and playing record of the player
The length of the player was registered with the original club
The terms offered by both clubs to the player
The status of both clubs
The substantiated interest shown by any other clubs in the player
Any amounts paid by the original club to acquire the player previously
As with the Scott Sinclair case it is not uncommon for the PRCC to set fees that build as the player becomes more established at first team level. Recent cases have seen clubs receive a basic compensation fee with further payments due when on a player’s debut and following a certain number of first team appearances. It is also not uncommon for a sell on clause to be included if and when a player is sold at any time in the future.
The Football League believes that compensation fees set by the PFCC must send the right messages to member clubs about the benefits of having a fully developed youth programme. The Leagues Chief Operating Officer Andy Williamson says “We cannot allow a situation to develop where the level of compensation ends up being a deterrent to a club to invest in youth development. Instead, we must ensure that clubs receive suitable recognition for the work they do in identifying and developing players. In turn this will encourage them to redouble their efforts to produce the young talent of the future.”
This summer saw considerable debate about the valuations being placed on young players by the PFCC. Williamson concludes, ”We must not allow clubs to feel short changed, as some clearly have done in recent times, by the very process that is supposed to reward their good work.” Well said Andy and we know exactly what you are driving at.
All of us at Bristol Rovers wish Scott Sinclair the very best with his career as a professional football and it would be a delight to see him play for the National team one day. However, the purpose of our Centre of Excellence is to develop young players for our own competitive advantage and to make progress up the pyramid until we get to the top flight ourselves. You may smile at that and think never but so would football fans in Hull have thought the same even as little as two seasons ago.
What a loss to our football club if the likes of Geoff Bradford and Alfie Biggs had been snapped up by the then first division clubs before giving our own faithful fans the opportunity and privilege to watch them play at the top of their games. Just for the record a total of 885 league and cup games between them and no less than 420 goals scored.