April 2010

Why Isn’t There A Draft In Soccer?

Can you feel a draft?

I guess it’s a sign of how well I have adapted to American life that I am checking my Smartphone every five minutes to see which pile of ass the Atlanta Falcons blow their first round draft choice on this year.

It also got me to thinking, why isn’t there a draft in soccer?

Firstly the recruiting systems are quite different, British clubs with Academy schemes can sign kids straight from school at 16 and bring them through their ranks as young professionals so they get a couple of years at best in the reserves or on loan at a lower league club before being released and steadily drifting downwards until they end up playing Sunday League a few miles away from where they thought they would be parking their Bentley.

The US system does have some kind of academic cover to give it a sliver of respectability rather than a modern-day slave-labor auction. Of course, the only other way that 99 percent of professional football players in the United States would be welcomed onto university campuses would be as janitors but nobody is fooled by the “qualifications” that are bestowed on them as they “graduate.” In the same way that nobody seriously thought the 43rd President actually had an MBA degree, although if he ran the 40 in 4.18 seconds, that would have been pretty impressive.

One thing the US does do is spectacle and the draft day itself was always worth watching or at least was before the NFL decided to mess with everybody and end the first round just as its getting interesting.  The English recruitment system at the top level has fallen into disrepute as of late and with UEFA’s new home-grown guidelines coming in the time may be ripe to combine US razzmatazz with good old-fashioned English pragmatism. As we are seeing in the UK Election debates right now, people want change. The last Chelsea player to come through their youth team ranks to the first team was one John Terry. Something has to be done.

Every Premier League team, and team in receipt of parachute payments in the Championship, should be compelled to set aside up to £1m of their annual TV payout for a draft auction.  Every team in League 2 would then designate one of their players as draft eligible but they would have to meet certain, pre-defined criteria, so they couldn’t just shove some 16 year old trainee in there to bilk the big boys.

The lowest ranking team would then get to pick the most promising youngster from the draft and pay the owning team the draft transfer fee along with a 25 percent sell on clause.

As well as being a financial life-line for lower league clubs, it could be done in a day similar to the US format and the very idea of covering it with all the attendant analysis and speculation would make Sky TV do a collective Sex Pee.

Normal flippant service will be resumed later in the week. Unless Sky takes me up on my offer in which case, you will be able to read my Kiper-esque selections at www.skysports.com/blogs,

PS – Sean Weatherspoon? Really? Godammit Falcons…

Guy Bailey is a senior writer for The Yanks Are Coming. He can be reached at guy@yanksarecoming.com.

Guy Bailey

  • Neil W. Blackmon

    Excellent work as usual Guy– it would be interesting– one dynamic I actually enjoy about youth systems is that you get to wait a bit longer before hype attaches to players. For example, no one was certain that Jackie Rodwell would be the great white hope of the English midfield for the next decade when he was an academy player– at least– not at the beginning. That would be good if it were the case in the NFL, or MLB, where hype follows first-rounders with a brighter glare than others. I think that creates a comfort and commitment to work-ethic without scrutiny, at least temporarily. Once they score against Chelsea (as in Rodwell’s case)– then things get interesting.

  • Jon

    “With the fourth pick in the inaugural EPL draft… West Ham United F.C. selects Aaron Ramsey, Midfielder, Wales.” A pity they’ll lose Jack Collison, but they’re essentially swapping one injured Welsh center attacking mid for another.

    Oh and Guy, let’s not forget that Terry trained in Tony Carr’s West Ham academy before beginning his Chelsea youth career. I’m not sure the Blues know there are English players available for recruitment who didn’t learn the game in East London… except for your boy Ashley of course.