Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Italian football clubs love Captain Jack Sparrow

EXCLUSIVE picture of Sam Allardyce in disguise, loitering outside Fiorentina's training ground with a notepad

Serie A clubs Palermo and Reggina are upset with the EPL, and by gosh by golly, they've dusted off their finest similes to prove it.

Apparently, EPL teams are "pirates taking treasures", a phrase referring to the apparent practice of English sides poaching young players from foreign academies who haven't yet signed as professionals.

Finally! The whinging Italians can bite their tongues no longer!

I'm must admit that I'm a touch confused, but I'll bite. Tell me more, UEFA president/twat Michel Platini:

"The first contract a player signs should be with the club who trains him.
I really don't like it when a club like Lugano, Geneve, Brescia or Nancy train a player and then when they are 16 they are bought by much richer clubs. We're going to fight it."
The eloquence continued with Reggina president Lillo Foti:
"It's a barbaric attitude that shows no respect to other clubs who work with dedication to develop young players.

Once upon a time there was pillaging, and this is something similar, in that there are still wild people who use their power to reach their objectives.

In some respects it's a type of corruption - they've corrupted the family, they've corrupted the boy."

Now we're getting somewhere. The Italian clubs are taking umbrage with the fact that the EPL routinely signs 16- and 17-year-olds from around the world to finish their development in England before unleashing them on the league [Cristiano Ronaldo, anyone?]. While they may have a point, it's hard to think that this sudden sharing of opinions is unconnected to the recent manhandling of Serie A clubs at the hands of the Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool.

Realistically, I can see this story going for quite some time. The general xenophobia exhibited by smug English journalists towards American EPL club owners is spilling over to Europe, and it won't be long before we see these provincial attitudes get around the homegrown players who are being kept on the sideline because of international superstars in the starting lineup.


The thing is that prominent figures in the English game are taking it from the other perspective, using the phenomenon to gripe about the stunted development of native players in the English youth system.

Sir Trevor Brooking, the FA's point-man on home development [good luck!]:

"When we set up the academies, we understood the challenge (posed by clubs) bringing in the best overseas talent in the older age groups.

What we didn't quite understand is that that would start to fill up the academy areas and stifle the growth there.

Longer term it is extremely worrying."

Sorry Trevor, but it's the nature of this wonderful global business game that the FA is profiting off to infinity and beyond. You can't complain about the prominence of foreigners in the league from one side of your mouth, while celebrating record profits for the league and revenue for the FA out of the other.

It doesn't quite work that way!

I am very intrigued to see where this goes, and more than anything, I just hope we get a lot more pirate metaphors.

No comments: