Dear Roker Report,
I was reading Mark Wild’s letter about losing our academy kids to Premier League clubs.
We have to ask the owners why we are losing these young players to other clubs and what the policy is for the future of our club. Are they being forced out of the door to bring some money into the club? That’s what it is looking like to me.
The policy I would like to see changed is the loan system - scrap it unless it is an emergency loan for a goalkeeper. That way the lower league clubs would be able to pick these players up and be able to sell them on at a decent price instead of Premier clubs picking them up on the cheap and making a fortune on loaning them out and letting the smaller clubs develop them till the money men say, “That’s it, they have done the job, now bring them back.”
They even have the cheek to play them in the EFL Cup to develop them! When is the FA and the EFL going to stand up to the Premier League and stop them ruining our football?
Editor’s Note [Alex]: I feel like you’ve raised two separate issues here, Tom, so I’ll try to respond to them both.
First of all: are the Sunderland ownership selling off our best and brightest from the youth academy in order to generate funds? Yeah, that’s what it looks like to me, so I’m fully with you there. We the fans were told, when Donald and Methven initially assumed control of the club’s administration, that we were to adapt ‘the Dortmund Model’ and were to use that as a reference point for our transfer policy. As a result, it’s not only highly frustrating that a potential future generation of local lads has been lost, but also because the powers-that-be are seemingly doing the exact opposite of what they promised to have in store for us.
As for your second point about abolishing the loaning of players, I think it would be highly unwise to do so. Regardless of whether or not it is hypothetically possible for a player from a lower league club to be loaned to a Premier League one or vice versa, footballers with outstanding ability in the third or fourth divisions are always going to find their way higher up, be that via promotions or permanent transfers to clubs of a superior stature. I personally can’t see how removing loan options would give the lower league clubs any more of a financial upper-hand; they would ultimately move for a relatively large sum to benefit the selling club regardless.
There is also the case that - in my opinion - the loaning of a player from a club in a higher division to a lower one is a mutually agreeable arrangement, as it affords the young lad invaluable first-team experience to prepare him for his potential breakthrough into the first team of his parent club while the recipient club get a good player for their level without breaking the bank. Jordan Pickford is a prime example of how this has benefited Sunderland in the past: we loaned Pickford out to a multitude of League One and Championship clubs so he could get the feel for the Number One shit before he stepped into the Premier League. It’s also a financially sound move for lower-placed clubs with small budgets to get upcoming talent on loan, as it presumably costs less than buying someone outright without compromising quality - I’m sure Preston fans felt that way when they borrowed Pickford from us.
The ‘leasing.com trophy’ is definitely a total sham, though. Youth Teams shouldn’t be anywhere near that - a condescending decision by the FA that detracts from both the dignity and the general interest of what was a respectable competition.