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Youth Football: The Premier League Needs To Compensate Small Teams More

LEEDS, UNITED KINGDOM - MARCH 3: Ken Bates, chairman of Leeds United, looks on during the Coca-Cola Championship match between Leeds United and Sheffield Wednesday at Elland Road on March 3, 2007 in Leeds, England. (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)
Mark BatemanCorrespondent IJuly 15, 2009

While the Premier League Gravy Train carries on, largely immune to the global downturn, the gap between top flight teams and those in the divisions below continues to grow.

Teams in the top flight of the English game seem to have forgotten how to produce their own young players and instead look to buy young players, developing their game at lower levels, on the cheap.

Last week, Leeds United Chairman Ken Bates announced that he will seek a large compensation agreement from Premier League side Everton, after they signed 16-year-old defender Luke Garbutt from the Elland Road club.

The insulting amounts of money often handed out by the independent FA tribunals that handle these affairs do not take into account the future achievements of the player in question.

Leeds, for example, could be offered a poultry £100,000 for training Luke Garbutt for five years.

He then becomes a first team regular at Goodison Park, goes on to play for England, maybe even becoming the answer to the national side's problem left side.

Everton could then sell him on for millions, which would mean a profit windfall for the Toffees, but little return for Leeds who did all the ground work.

The current system is woefully inadequate at dealing with these issues. It doesn't seem to grasp the astronomical amounts of money that Premier League clubs command and how little they seem to do to develop future players for themselves.

Smaller clubs should be compensated more for their hard work in youth development.

Leeds will be successful in gaining a higher level of compensation from Everton, after all, Ken Bates made sure that Chelsea paid a reported £4 million back in 2006, when the Blues signed two of Leeds' academy prospects.

This story also covers a deeper underlying problem. Premier League teams are not producing enough of their own young players. This means a shortage of future England internationals and those who do represent our country would not be of a sufficient class to be considered competitive on the global stage.

The Premier League and the Football Association need to do more to ensure that top level teams give more young players a chance and develop their own young players and should they want to sign aspiring youngsters from lower down the football pyramid, that they compensate the club losing the player well.

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