City Youth Academy players banned from 'club' football
PUBLISHED: 10:00 10 July 2008 | UPDATED: 22:03 15 June 2010
A number of youth teams across East Devon, and beyond, have been left looking for new players for their sides after all the players who are with the Exeter City Youth Academy have been told that they can no longer play in their respective youth teams, writes Steve Birley.
A number of youth teams across East Devon, and beyond, have been left looking for new players for their sides after all the players who are with the Exeter City Youth Academy have been told that they can no longer play in their respective youth teams. The ruling comes from the Football League and had not applied whilst City were a Non League club, but last May's Wembley win, and subsequent promotion, has led to the change in policy.One of the hardest hit sides locally has been Brixington Blues in the Under-13 age group, where at least half a dozen of the side's regular players are affected, but it is right across the local youth football scene that this scenario will be played out. At the Football League head office in Blackpool, Graham Hawkins, Head of Player Development, said: "It is written into the League's Academy rules that youngsters, once signed with an Academy, should only be playing for that Academy Club, and it applies to all the age groups at the club. That said, we do insist that the clubs keep it equitable in as much as they do not overload their Academies as clearly they would not be able to provide football for all their players and we insist that parity is observed across the ages in terms of the amount of football the youngsters play."It does mean that some of the 'stronger' teams in recent years will, overnight, be left significantly less powerful, but it will open the doors for greater opportunities for many more aspiring young players!With regard to what ages this applies to, it is across the full range of youth football age groups and so, even at under 9 level, any youngster who is signed at a Football League club's Academy cannot then play for his local team.l At a meeting of the Exeter & District Youth League on Monday night, a number of clubs announced decisions to reduce their sides playing in the competition next season owing to the fact that they are losing both players and, in some cases, coaches. Crediton Saints under-10 coach Tony Western has lost three of his players and he said: "It is heart breaking. Basically I have been coaching these lads from the age of six and now I am being told that I am not able to work with them anymore. "We have moulded a very competent young team who have enjoyed playing together and now, because of this ruling, our two teams will become one and that means fewer opportunities for other lads. At Exeter-based West Exe Under-12s, the coach of the side, whose talented son is one of the Exeter City youth players, has said, understandably, that if his son isn't going to be involved then he does not want to coach the team.