Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Hands off our academy!

I've started to see a number of views from different sources about the benefits a 'feeder club' kind of system can bring us, but I personally cannot see any benefit for us in this particular case. The point that seems to be missed over and over is that Standard Liege are not a big club.

We aren't talking about Barca or Madrid, or Juve or Milan even Chelsea, Manchester United or City where an arrangement of this type could have obvious advantages. Aligning ourselves with one of the major teams in Europe might well be an intelligent thing to do, but that is not what is happening here.

In this instance, we are talking about Standard Liege. We are talking about a team that finished bottom of their Europa Cup group. Guess who else were in that group - Salzburg, Esbjerg and Elfborg. Hardly big hitters in terms of European football. Liege managed ONE point in their group.

A single point out of six games. Both Wigan and Swansea picked up more points in their respective groups than Liege could manage. I mean no disrespect to any of these clubs, I am merely trying to demonstrate that by accepting this arrangement we are selling ourselves short.

It's not even as if Liege has an embarrassment of quality youth players that are knocking on the door of the team but can't get in. We've seen what 'riches' Liege can offer and they have thus far come up short in terms of quality. Why would we want to be a feeder club to a second rate European team?

They might be the best team in Belgium, but what does that count for? Not a lot because the majority of the sides in the Jupila Pro League would be hard pushed in our Championship.

I also think about what might happen if one of our young players refuses to go to Liege? What if they don't want to move away from their families for long periods? You can hardly blame them at such a young age. Will that then see them frozen out at Charlton? Will their own development become stifled because they aren't willing to play ball with the regime?

What happens when heads are turned and one of our prospects becomes much sought after, will Duchatelet sell them to a team outside his network for their true value or is he more likely to sell them on the cheap to Liege or another one of his clubs? I think we know the answer to this as he is doing his best to keep his own money circulating around his network.

We need to keep investing in our own academy system and use the players that come through for our own development as a club. This is something that we have been doing to good effect, we have blooded some very good youngsters over the past couple of seasons. Our hot prospects should be ours and ours alone.

We do not need to swap players with Liege because their fringe players are no better than ours, I would go as far to say that the ones we have currently are worse than our own. We have a good academy, that is why Duchatelet has acquired us. He wants to siphon off our biggest asset in the hope of improving Liege on the cheap, thus making him even more money.

This entire thing is a disgrace and I find it incredulous that the Football League can allow such things to happen. They should be protecting the clubs in their divisions from this type of behaviour. It's not going to benefit English football as a whole if this kind of model catches on as all the best home-grown players are farmed out around Europe and are replaced with second rate understudies.

We should not accept this arrangement, it will be at the detriment to the development and ambition of Charlton Athletic, not to mention the damage it could do to our own domestic game.  But what can we do to stop it?  I really have no idea.


  1. Well said Exiled Addick! Your closing two paragraphs say it all for me.

    RD has stated that Charlton need to break even or show a profit - to achieve this he will sell all the assets and then replace from Ujest. Kickabal. What is the point of a multi millionaire owner who won't put his hand in his pocket? The future is bleak.

    I can't decide whether Valley Gold should be renamed RD or SL gold?

  2. The way I see it is this:

    If TJ/MS had stayed in control with the investement they were able (or not as was the case) to offer, we would have sold YK and DS, probably sold JC as well and not bought in any reinforcements. We may have sold DP as well - and he hadn't played for us at that stage so would have been very cheap. We would have been in a weaker position.

    I have only been to a couple of games in 2014 and one of them - Birmingham home - our 3 best players were Yohan Thuram as he made some outstanding saves, Astrit A as he looked twice the creative force that DS looked before leaving, and Goochi as he was a livewire and should have been given a penalty.

    I think that if we played the best players in their best positions we would not be in a stronger position squad-wise than we were pre-RD.

    As for the football terms that Powell was fired for - RD said in an interview that he would let CP get on with getting a couple of loan players in, in that time we saw him miss out on Conor Wickham, Leon Best and Jonny Williams, we have only bought in Marcus Tudgay who we have not yet seen the best of - is he any better than Goochi or Sordell who we left out of the team? is he even any better than Michael Smith who Powell deeemed not good enough? With this (albeit short) record in the loan market WHILE ON RD'S WATCH, do you think it would fill him with confidence that Powell knows what he is doing in the transfer market?

    Finally, in terms of being a feeder club, I really think we need to see what investment there is over the summer before we can cast judgement. Without knowing too much about RD as a person it is difficult to fully know his intentions. If he is a Standard Liege fan and only wants the best for them, then we should be worried as everything will be done to benefit his favourite team. If he is in it for the money then we can get excited though as he must see us as the biggest potential earner. We should therefore get the best of the available players from the network in order to access the riches of the premier league. Standard Liege would then sensibly become OUR feeder club as we progress in the premier league.

    1. Well said. RD has also committed money to upgrading the academy which should help prevent the poaching of our v good young talent by teams with class 1 academies . Anybody would think that up until last Monday the season had been one long victory parade. Was Sundays debacle an example of expert motivation and team selection?

  3. Good to have you back blogging, Exile.