Maltreatment of young players; Arsenal to benefit from FFP enquiry?



By Tony Attwood

I recently came across a case in which an individual made a complaint to the police about the behaviour of a football club in relation to his son’s physical health.   The allegation was that the child was trained and played when in fact he should have been referred to the medical staff concerning an injury.

Now of course I can’t validate the story, but it does seem likely to me that some clubs might well try to cut a few corners by avoiding sending the child to the club’s medical team – especially if the medical team is already overstretched.

In such circumstances what would then be good would be for the case to be investigated by the Football Association or the Football League to which the club is affiliated, and when they don’t, for the police to pick it up.  

But there seems to be a conspiracy of silence as it appears (as I have mentioned before) that the medical records of the child go “missing”, but no one wants to investigate what the club is up to.

It is of course the sort of thing that the new overseeing body being set up to be in charge of all football matters could investigate, but I am really not holding my breath on this one.

Perhaps not directly related to the above but still of interest is the fact that the two clubs who have had the most PFA Young Player of the Year titles since the awards were invented are clubs that of late have not always been doing too well.   

Yes we can indeed admit that Manchester United with eight such awards did win many things in the Ferguson era but Tottenham who have the second-highest number of young player awards (six) really haven’t set the world alight.

Indeed between 2011/12 and 2016/17 a Tottenham Hotspur player won the award five times.  And they did become runners-up in the league in 2016/17, in the Champions League 2018/19 and in the League Cup 2020/21, but never got over the line for any trophy.

In contrast from 2017/18 through to 2021/22 Manchester City won the award four times (Sane, Sterling, and Foden two years running).

So young players can be looked after and can help the club evolve, as we would hope given that Bakayo Saka won the award in 2022/23 – the first Arsenal player so to do since Jack Wilshere in 2010/11 and Cesc Fabregas in 2007/08.

And in case you are interested, previous Arsenal winners were Tony Adams, Paul Merson, and Nic Anelka. 

But to return to my earlier theme about the regulation of football, it is interesting that Sports Pro Daily has recently run the headline “Premier League CEO warns independent regulator could ‘undermine global success’.”   

That story is behind a paywall, but as is invariably the case there is a report that is open to all to read on the same story, in this case from Yahoo.    The issue in question is the Football Governance Bill and the league’s chief exec has now suggested that the independent regulator could reduce competitiveness.

The issue seems to be one of “unintended consequences” for the Bill which would  “weaken the incredible appeal of the English game” by introducing “red tape”.

Now my view is that if that red tape means that clubs now have to keep proper records of their young players, their injuries and the treatment that they get or don’t get, then that is not red tape at all, but something that should have been introduced 50 years or more ago.   It is to the eternal shame of the Football League, Football Association and Premier League that such regulations do not exist.

But of course there is more, for the Regulator could also investigate how the Premier League seem to have got itself in such a muddle over the Financial Fair Play regulations.

You may for example recall the utterly scurrilous headline in the appalling Football.London site  which said “Premier League FFP investigation timeline set as Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham await verdict.”

Well yes, Arsenal were awaiting the verdict, just as all the other 19 clubs in the league were awaiting it.  Awaiting, as most of them were, with interest to see what was happening to Manchester City, Everton, Nottingham Forest and Chelsea, not what was happening to Arsenal.

In fact, Fo.Lo were at it again five days ago with the headline What new Premier League FFP punishment decision means for Arsenal… 

In fact one has to plough through line after line of meandering gibberish before getting to the nub of the matter:

“Arsenal, for example, are still waiting to learn the outcome of City’s historic case as well as balancing their own compliance following several years of large spending and little selling. They could be set to benefit currently or even retrospectively from punishments to Pep Guardiola’s side if they are as harsh as some reports suggest they could be.”

But there is no suggestion that I can find that Arsenal have failed to balance their spending and selling in accordance with the rules.  Indeed an article on the same website spoke of Arsenal as a “young, inexperienced side, founded not on mammoth transfer fees but on elite coaching, trust, growth and time.”

We shall of course find out in due course, although Football,London will be nothing if not inconsistent.  On that you can depend.

One Reply to “Maltreatment of young players; Arsenal to benefit from FFP enquiry?”

  1. Tony

    “The issue seems to be one of “unintended consequences” for the Bill which would “weaken the incredible appeal of the English game” by introducing “red tape”.

    “Red Tape”.

    I absolutely detest that phrase. Red Tape to one person (An employer) is a restriction, but to another person (An employee) it is protection.

    The second you hear somebody moaning about ‘red tape’ you can bet your bottom dollar it’s an employer whinging about how it’s going to hit their profits.

    They don’t give a toss that it’s actually a regulation that will safeguard a minors health, a workers safety or an employees terms an conditions. Working conditions such as holidays, sick pay or pension. Who gives a toss about that when the boss cant afford a new Yacht? Drives me nuts!!!!

    You go on to say:

    “Now my view is that if that red tape means that clubs now have to keep proper records of their young players, their injuries and the treatment that they get or don’t get, then that is not red tape at all”


    As for Fo.Lo Putting Arsenal in a negative headline when it actually has nothing to do with us, at least not within a negative context, is exactly what I was talking about yesterday with regards to the ‘bottling it’ head lines.

    Even when the article is actually about how Man Utd ‘Bottled It’ it is Arsenal they put in the headline.

    And some people come on here suggesting this media negativity is just something we make up.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *