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Latics debate future of youth policy

12 January 2013

Fans given chance to have their say

Latics are giving fans a chance to have their say as directors debate the future of the youth policy at Boundary Park.

The board is keen to canvass the views of supporters as they contemplate a decision which will have far-reaching consequences.

Director Barry Owen, who has undertaken a financial review of the club over the last 12 months, says the board has to decide in the next six weeks whether to scrap the youth programme or pursue a policy like the one at Crewe Alexandra.

Mr Owen revealed it cost Latics £437,000 to run their youth set up in the last financial year, but they received £210,000 in funding from external bodies leaving a shortfall of £227,000.

He explained: "We have, as a board of directors, decided to give fans the opportunity to have the information which is before us with regard to the future of the youth section and the considerations we are looking at in the next six weeks.

"It is costing just short of £20,000 each month that the club has to find which is a considerable amount of money."

Mr Owen added the club must decide whether to follow Crewe whose successful youth model has been developed over many years.

He explained: "During that process of development they have had to take hits with relegation.

"What they decided many years ago was they would have a policy of youth development and managerial appointments which are made on the basis youth players will come through the scheme to play first-team football.

"And irrespective of any compensation rights, their belief is that if their players are good enough and get into the first team, they will attract large fees.

"This has been proven by Nick Powell going to Manchester United last summer and Shaun Miller being sold to Sheffield United."

Mr Owen added that the cost effectiveness of Latics' youth policy has been thrown into doubt because of the new Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP).

Latics have been renowned for selling young players for large profits since the Joe Royle era.

That had ended since the introduction of the EPPP with Mr Owen explaining Latics would have received an initial £12,500 for Tom Eaves who was sold to Bolton Wanderers for £300,000.

He continued: "The EPPP doesn't allow is to get compensation in the same way that we might have dictated to Manchester City, for example, for Micah Richards.

"We are very much governed by a scale of fee and that leaves us with a predicament as to whether we can afford to run a youth section looking at the cost of over £1million for a five-year period and whether we are likely to receive that back in transfer fees and compensation.

"I am aware it is huge subject and there are many arguments on both sides.

"What image does it give if Latics doesn't have a youth team? Is it the demise of the club?

"On the other hand, is it the type of expenditure which ought to go towards the first team?"

Mr Owen added that a number of other clubs are at the moment faced with the same dilemma and whether they can afford a youth section.

He says it is important that the club enlarges the debate before a final decision is made.

Mr Owen said: "We are interested in what people think and ask them to consider both arguments.

"To go down the Crewe road, fans would need patience. We would not have as many senior professionals signed and it would be a more youth orientated team with some experienced players on top.

"We are interested in the debate before we, as a board, make the final decision.

"The future of Oldham Athletic Football Club is foremost in our minds.

"Whether we go forward with a different policy that will take a number of years to implement is one debate and the other is it more important to develop the first team and make that the primary consideration?"

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