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The Wise Men Of The Board

By: James Ernest Burdass
Date: 14/01/2002

IT'S DIFFICULT to look at the current state of GTFC without a certain sense of irony. The club has decided to cut back on its youth system to secure its future.

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Yet much of the past success of the club has been based upon growing a pool of young talent. No highly paid Balaban's, Todorov's or Nielsen's at Blundell Park, thank you very much.

The youth system has produced Oster, McDermott, Handyside, Thompson, Ford, Rowan, Lester and Croudson. These players have a combined value of £3m. The club has therefore produced players it could never have afforded to buy. The youth system is on this ground alone an invaluable asset to the club and it could have been even better had we not produced the 'ones that got away'. These included Wrack and Clare who got transferred on frees and have gone on to impress elsewhere.

The business case for the youth system is not hard to understand and it is concerning that the board cannot see its merits. It is clear that winding down the youth system means lower transfer income in future and less players leading to less cash flow. No youth system will therefore mean no decent players. Simple as that given the price tags of even average footballers these days. Rushden & Diamonds once bid over £200,000 to attempt to take Julian Alsop to the Conference and Daryl Clare is now rumoured to be worth £300,000 at Boston after his free-scoring run.

But the ironies do not stop there. We have just lost a manager who had the contacts in football to bring new people in from Premiership clubs, leaving no-one to manage play from the sidelines. He was sacked following an incident where he wanted to sign a quality player. The chief scout has been even been removed in the hope that no future players will be spotted!

We are now supposedly spending millions on a ground that will have only 2000 more seats than we have now and would not be any better than Hull City's new effort. 12000 capacity is hardly ambitious for a genuine first division side.

...His spin about financial prudence should therefore be treated with scepticism...

The Chairman talks about the need for financial strength yet he was in charge when the club nearly went bust in 1988. His spin about financial prudence should therefore be treated with scepticism. He talks of the need to stay up yet will not provide funds for quality players. There is a £1.5m TV money penalty for going down yet we seem to have all but given up the fight halfway through the season.

The last board recognised the value of TV money and invested in staying up. What is the current board's strategy for staying in the division? In my view, it amounts to inaction and hoping for the best. And of course they must recognise that some of the players will want to leave if we go down.

Sadly, it seems that the maths of having a youth system and staying in the division have escaped the current board and we must surely face a fight to stay in business should we go down. My guess is that the board's underlying strategy is to cut costs by whatever means and sell Danny Coyne for >£1m to save the club. Regrettably, I conclude that the obvious short-termism from the board has placed the entire future of the club in peril and that new men at the top could be the only way to secure its survival both in business and this league.

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