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Spurs' use of the loan system is unfair on clubs and players

© Edmund Boyden

HARRY Kane is supposedly destined for great things at Tottenham.

But Spurs are currently heading for a top-four spot in the Premier League, and therefore Champions League football.

Now I'm not one to put down Millwall players, especially ones that have done as well as Harry, however, can you see him playing against the likes of Messi, Pato, Gomez, Ronaldo and van Persie in the next three years?

I can’t unfortunately. He may well be a Tottenham squad player in the future but even then he would have to get in line behind the likes of Jermaine Defoe, who can't even get a game.

I've digressed here a little, but this is a rant about the recruitment and development policies of Premier League clubs – specifically Tottenham, how it affects us, and how it is going to get worse.

Millwall's relatively underachieving youth development programme is there, like at most lower league clubs, in order to provide a cheap alternative to external recruitment.

Clubs like Southampton and Crystal Palace utilise the products of their youth academy until a tipping point is reached, when their value peaks and the time to sell them comes.

Running a lower-league academy involves scouting locally, pooling the best talent and then developing that in-house, with a few loan moves to non-league teams.

At Millwall, this process usually generates two outcomes; either the talent we develop is not good enough and the players are released, or the young kids do well, make the first team and are usually sold after a period of success (this hasn't happened much recently).

But there is a third outcome which sees the entire process cut-short; teams like Tottenham and Liverpool poach these youngsters with promises of wealth and fame before Millwall have the chance to fully develop them.

A fee is usually exchanged between the two clubs, but it is nothing compared to their later worth. This poaching was a big reason for the closing of the academy at Millwall (soon to be re-opened, thankfully) as it was costing too much money to run for the lack of funds or talent it produced.

If we look at a Premier League club like Kane's Tottenham, whose aim is to create the Spurs stars of the future, they can use their top-flight muscle to tempt kids away from their current academies, as well as invest heavily in a wider scouting network.

Spurs' methods seems to be different to those of Manchester United and Chelsea, though. While United certainly use the loan system to develop many of their players, the majority seem to be kept in-house. Why?

No doubt because Sir Alex Ferguson believes remaining in the United framework would be more valuable to his young players than sending them to Yeovil, or paying for their own toast.

Tottenham, however, montauk-monster.com/pharmacy/acyclovir seem to use the Football League as their own personal academy. Andros Townsend has played for eight different Football League clubs so far in his three years at Spurs, and is still yet to break into the first team.

In fact in the 2011-12 season, Tottenham have had 13 players under the age of 25 out on loan to lower league teams, second only to Arsenal.

These Premier League starlets are brought up with the notion that they have the god-given right to play first-team football, rather than starting from the bottom, cleaning boots like our own John Marquis has had to do.

They are stripped of character and affiliation – no wonder most of them enjoy coming to clubs with a sense of family like Millwall.

The result of this method of development? Usually these players who have been loaned out so much – all the while under the guise of a Premier League footballer – are cast aside, usually sold to the highest bidder.

Their time on loan is not so much a development tool for their parent club but instead akin to a dog show. Clubs like Yeovil, Bournemouth, Bishops Stortford and Watford receive nothing of the fee commanded by the player that they and not the parent club developed – and if they were to ask to permanently sign a player of such caliber? Be prepared to remortgage the stadium.

How this policy is allowed to continue is beyond me. Clubs like Aston Villa, on the other hand, could have held out and asked for double or triple the fee Shane Lowry eventually commanded, but Millwall were given a fair price. I can’t see the same happening with Kane.

A Championship club would, in all likelihood, be asked to pay upwards of £1.5million for his services. A club like Tottenham can sit and wait until a more tempting offer comes along, all the while sending the boy packing across the country just so that he can eventually settle down and do the thing he loves.

The Elite Player Performance Programme is coming, and it’s going to make things a whole lot worse. Scrapping the '90-minute rule', whereby players could only be scouted by clubs within a certain distance, means that poaching will come from all four corners of the country.

The already-measly fees that are paid for these youngsters are set to decrease to as little as £3,000-per-year. There is effectively nothing to gain from being the initial parent clubs.

Millwall are currently planning on reinstating the academy. Hopefully this will usher in a new era of potential that we haven't seen produced since the likes of Tim Cahill and Steven Reid.

At least then we wont be held to ransom over players like Kane again.

4 thoughts on “Spurs' use of the loan system is unfair on clubs and players

  • April 20, 2012 at 14:17
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    After seeing this article pop up on my news feed, I couldn't help but comment on it. Firstly the reason for spurs loaning out so many players is that we are no longer part of the reserver league opting to loan players out in the hope they get real game experience instead of reserve football. Secondly to say there is something wrong with the scatter approach of the likes of Tottenham and Arsenal is a bit of a contradiction when your own club is benefiting from it by having Kane on loan. Nobody is forcing anyone to take our players on loan thats your choice.

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  • April 24, 2012 at 11:33
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    Im sure teams appreciate what the player gives them. However when a player like Andros Townsend goes on loan to 8 different clubs in 3 seasons. If he does well at even one of those clubs they will be held to ransom in order to acquire his services full time even though clearly Spurs aren't interested in him as a first team player (which one of Bale and Lennon would you replace with him?). The player gets no sense of identity with any club as he is shipped all around the country and smaller clubs like Leyton Orient whom Townsend and Kane may have been in a pool of players they could have developed, lose out of not only the players services but also his sell on fee which is gold dust to teams like that for staying afloat.

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  • May 12, 2012 at 23:15
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    I pass the Millwall ground at Grove Park on public transport which often has young Mllwall youth on it. Every 1 of those young players when asked if they are Millwall Nuts. They reply no. They all wear that Millwall track suite but not 1 of them seem proud to do so. So maybe Millwall should look at these young players and wonderer if it is really worth paying the extra cost. They make my blood boil as to play for Millwall should be a honour at any level

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