Guernsey Press

Pathway is proven but local clubs missing out

Pride does not pay the bills.

Alex Scott moved to Bournemouth in a transfer worth up to £25m. less than four years after signing for Bristol City as a Guernsey FC player. (Picture from John Walton/PA Wire, 32864275)

That is the stark reality for local clubs as another of the island’s bright prospects leaves these shores to follow their professional dream with Jack Griffin having joined Bristol City.

He is the fourth player to have signed for the Robins from the Guernsey FC ranks after Alex Scott, Ben Acey and Tim Ap Sion, all of whom have strong links to our domestic clubs too, and Tony Vance has highlighted that while the youngsters are grasping their opportunities with both hands, local football currently receives no recompense when they see talented players depart.

Something has to change according to the GFC manager.

‘Firstly, what we would need to do is change how we are set up, but this will come at a cost,’ Vance said.

‘Let’s put it into perspective, one of the main reasons Guernsey FC was created was to provide aspiring youngsters a pathway to the professional game, and to have four players go to the same club in five years is remarkable and it’s great for those players.

‘But what are we getting? We are not getting anything and it is frustrating. From a selfish point of view, that’s four players who would be improving our chance of getting promoted if they stayed.

‘But to warrant getting a fee, we would have to put players on a contract, we would have to pay them. If you are paying them, we would have to pay the others and we, quite honestly, have not got the money.’

Obviously, England youth international Scott is the highest profile of the recent male departures and Vance illustrated just what Guernsey have missed out on since he signed for Bristol City and then moved into the Premier League with AFC Bournemouth on a deal worth up to £25m.

‘If we had Alex Scott on a contract when he was with us, for example, we would probably have had £1m.-1.5m. coming into the club with him now playing in the Premier League because you can negotiate a percentage of sell-on fees.

'If Alex were to move again, you’re still in the food chain so to speak, so you would benefit again.

‘The local clubs, like St Martin’s in Alex’s example, could also say “what about us?”, understandably. But they would have to do the same in terms of putting players on contract.

‘So we have to look at the structure of our football club because this would protect us for years to come. As it stands, we have to find something like £250,000 [a season] for our club to exist.’

Vance added that while everyone locally enjoyed seeing Sarnians make their way in the professional game, it had a knock on effect locally which is to the detriment of on-island football.

‘It is great these young players have this opportunity and we’re proud to have been a part of that pathway, but the ruthless part from our point of view is we have lost our better players over the last five years and that is a big reason why we keep finding ourselves in relegation battles,’ he said.

‘Similarly the local clubs are in the same position when they lose these players and I would love us to be in a position to help them too.

‘We will be continuing to fight relegation unless we change our structure by putting players on contract or we get compensated in some form when these players move on.

‘It is imperative everybody is on the same page, as now the pathway is becoming proven, there is no reason why another Alex Scott could not happen again.’