Date: 14th February 2007 at 2:06pm
Written by:

Pay or Really Pay!

That is my message to Alexander Gaydamak. I`m not referring to bringing in Thierry Henry for forty million from Arsenal. I`m talking about what teams like West Ham, Southampton, Manchester United and Arsenal have been doing for years?


Fans have continuously questioned what is happening about the stadium. Even us websites have given it a lot of coverage but I think a youth academy is even more important?

Arsenal, West Ham, Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Southampton, Charlton, Ipswich, Norwich, Millwall and Fulham, are where youngsters in the South of England are going.

You may be thinking? So what? A load of fifteen-year-olds aren`t going to get us into Europe next season. You`d be right, however a load of thirty five-year-olds on high wages aren`t going to be playing for Pompey in 5 years time!

My Argument For It

I think that we are missing out on a lot of young talent to those lot down the road. Look at Theo Walcott (it`s possible he would be playing for Pompey if we`d had a better academy). The cost of English players is increasing and this will continue to happen, especially considering the increase in TV revenue coming in next season. Teams will get away with charging even more for their young players. I believe failure to pay for youth facilities now will result in a much higher price to be paid in the future!

Think how exciting it must have been for Everton fans seeing Wayne Rooney (the next big thing) breaking into their first team? When was the last time Portsmouth fans walked out of the stadium saying; “he`s going to be amazing when he gets older.” We have been blessed over the years by the likes of Paul Merson, Robert Prosienski and Teddy but look at the age of those three!

Other’s Arguments

Navy Blue

Just heard that Pompey have released ALL of their Second Year Scholars. If this is true it is a disgrace. What does this tell younger players who have been asked to join or are thinking of joining Pompey? It tells me that our coaches are not up to producing players from the obvious POTENTIAL that is about.

I know a couple of local players at Saints now – both Pompey fans, who wouldn’t touch us with a barge pole. What a sad state of affairs when our own local lads would rather play for Saints.

What is happening with the proposal for the new Youth Acadamy in Titchfield? I was down in Portsmouth a couple of weeks ago and watched the Youth team play, they were pretty crap to say the least. Saints seem to have their Acadamy producing players left right and chelsea, why can’t we?

Pompey just seem to have missed a whole generation of local kids and Saints seem to snap them up. Do we not have a scouting network? What is Dave Hurst’s position? Why aren’t we picking up local lads. Jake Thompson, Matt Paterson, Mike Byrne, Jamie White and Ollie Lancashire all Hampshire lads. Why are they ALL at Saints. I just can’t believe we have no one looking?

Pompey don’t have the facilities or the balls to pick up young players and give them the opportunity to come through the ranks it is a disgrace. I have watched ‘kids’ football for the last 20 years in the Pompey areas. In the last two or three years I have seen some of the best prospects in that time – two of them are now at Stains one at Moneyfields and another has gone to Cambridge City! To have a club grow you must have youth. Harry must stop bringing in old players and spend the money on the Acadamy and the POTENTIAL that is in this area.


We have to face the fact that whilst we are a Premiership registered club, we are not in fact the least bit Premiership off the field. In fact, we are close to being an embarrassment – in reality we have a crap ground, with crap facilities, crap training ground, crap ticket office, crap club shop and really have a crap mentality towards anything that is needed to make this club really successful off the field.

Say what we will about Scum/Saints – they do at least have a decent ground and a superb academy/training set up, we’re still faffing about in Division Four mode as far as that is concerned!


The ‘build an academy’ mantra has become the panacea for all ills. Simply start an academy and you can have half a first team of youth players that are free and sell the ones who don’t make it to Championship sides….

Well its a great theory but it doesn’t stand up to close scrutiny.

An academy costs about £2m pa to run, let alone the set up costs of
several mill. So this means you need to produce a first team player
pretty much every year (at prem level, 4 or 5 at Championship level)
to make it worthwhile, or a superstar every few years.

Almost every academy in the country fails to achieve this.

Liverpool haven’t turned out a player since Carragher and Gerrard, 8
years ago. Ok, great players, but still most academies year after year
don’t produce a player.

Even if we had had an academy the chances are we wouldn’t have
produced a player since GON.

Even if we put in place an academy and in 5 years time it rolls out a first team player, that player will have cost us about £14m. 5 years at £2m a year plus £4m in set up costs.

Some academies are more successful than others of course. Villa and Boro have produced quite a few first team players, but these are mostly very average players. Downing and Agbonglahor are probably the best, but for the money it took to get them in the first team I would back HR to buy a better player every single time.

The other thing with really young players is that they tend to make a lot of mistakes in the early days. Then, if they manage to iron out the mistakes and become a good player someone else comes in and buys them. Which would you rather have bearing down on goal in the last minute of a match we really need to win, an 18 year old kid or Andy Cole?

The most successful youth programme is Arsenals’ who simply go round Europe stealing everyone else`s best 16 year olds for some small compensation.

The fact is that nearly all young English players are not good enough for the highest level. That is why they are no longer coming through at Man U, Arsenal, Liverpool or Chelsea.

There is one real reason to have an academy – the prem league rules say you have to.

Crewe and Millwall have two of the most successful academies out there, and both are thinking about closing them.

So by all means lets start an academy, because we have to. But don’t think its going to save a lot of money long term. It isn’t. Our future viability rests on continuing inflows of TV money (which make up 80% of our turnover next season) being matched by a support base catered for by a new stadium.

Academies are a total irrelevance to our long-term financial viability.

What Do You Think?

Lot`s of people have posted their views on the importance of youth facilities at Portsmouth Football Club and now I want to hear your views!

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We are hoping that Peter Storrie will comment on the article at some point today.