Sunday, December 10, 2006

Varney: first Academy to go in two years

Clubs are starting to discuss closing their academies, according to Charlton chief executive Peter Varney in an interview in The Times. Charlton's Academy has not exactly produced a stream of talent in recent years, so could there have been discussions about its future?

Varney said that he expected the first Academy to close within the next two years. 'If you are investing a sum of money at one end and nothing is coming out the other, it is inevitable that someone will look at their academy and say. "Why bother?" There's such a global market for players now that it's easier for managers to go out and buy the finished article.'

The underlying problem, according to Varney, is a short-termism that has fuelled the importing of foreign players and impeded the progress of players from under-18 level to the first team. 'The demands of Premier League football are so intense that managers can live or die on a weekly basis.' [Iain Dowie would know about that] 'You can hear them saying it, "This is time for experience, not for kids." Kids need to be nurtured, kids need time, and managers can't give them that - the truth is slowly, slowly we are destroying the production line of talent. Ultimately there will not be a route for an Englishman to the top.'

According to Varney, Lee Bowyer and Scott Parker, who came up through Charlton, might never have made it through the youth system today. Both took time to bridge the gap between youth team and first team football and today they may never have been given the time to emerge.

Varney's comments will no doubt resonate with many Charlton fans and fans more generally. I am somewhat sceptical about whether football can generally stand aside from globalising forces, but that is another story and one I will be writing about soon at another Charlton blog.


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