Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Is It Time for Youth Transfer Fees in the MLS?

L.E. Eisenmenger makes the case at Soccerlens in a wonderful piece that should be read. Eisenmenger writes:
US soccer has progressed to the level where like the rest of the world, MLS clubs should considering paying modest youth transfer fees to local clubs that develop the young players they select for their U16 and U18 academy teams.

Reimbursement in the form of scholarships would encourage local clubs to develop complete players instead of focusing on wins and also to invest in low-income players, further improving the vision of youth player development in the US. Ultimately, it could help turn out a better selection of youth products and somewhat limit MLS clubs’ need to invest in their own youth programs.
I couldn't agree more.

As a referee, I spend a fair amount of time looking at promising young players in the U13 to U16 range. But I also see a fair number of good players on high school teams that I don't see on premier level youth teams around my home. The reason is that top level teams can cost as much as $1,000 or more per year for a player to play and that kind of cash is hard to come by for poor youth players.

The biggest problem facing American soccer as I see it is the pay to play system which discourages talented young players, usually minorities, from playing at the highest levels because they can't afford the fees. But if MLS teams and USL-1 and USL-2 teams implement a youth academy, particularly residential academies similar to the top clubs in Europe and to a lesser extent South America, then they should be required to pay a fee to the local youth clubs that produced that player. I am not talking a six figure fee, or even a high five figure fee, but a modest fee of even a few thousand dollars will go a long way to getting more scholarships to these premier level clubs so that they can recruit, train and develop young players who, for whatever reason, can't afford the pay to play system.

Now don't get me wrong, I don't want to turn these youth clubs into a big business of just being suppliers of players with no concern as to the player's development or happiness. But for youth clubs that consistently pass good players onto to top colleges and even professional ranks, they should be rewarded by the professional clubs that pick these players and the transfer fee should be going to fund scholarships for poorer kids and higher trainers and fitness coaches for everyone, as well as coaches for each team.

Read more:

No comments: