CLAIMING it is almost certainly the tip of an iceberg, an East Lothian boys club have written to Scottish FA compliance officer Vincent Lunny to complain about the non-payment of compensation money allegedly owed by Hearts and Rangers.
Musselburgh Windsor FC, who celebrated their 60th anniversary last year, say they have taken the stance to alert boys clubs throughout Scotland that they are due thousands of pounds by professional clubs. Their own complaint relates to an under-15 goalkeeper who joined Hearts, and two younger outfield players who were released to join Rangers.
Club president Scott Robertson says his club is spending more money pursuing the complaint than it will actually get if Hearts and Rangers are forced to pay up. That is because boys clubs are due just £10 every time a senior club takes one of their registered players – a situation Robertson describes as “disgraceful”.
As some 2,700 boys, from the age of ten upwards, are registered with senior clubs, boys clubs are frequently plundered for their best players. The compensation is set at £10. Yet, within the senior system, clubs can demand between £600 and £15,000 for a boy who wants to switch to another team.
Explaining why Musselburgh Windsor have decided to take a stand about the £10 the club say is owed to them by Hearts, and £20 by Rangers, Robertson said: “To be due just £10 for a promising player we have probably nurtured for many years is bad enough.
“For that sum not to be paid, and for us to have to spend time and resources pursuing it, is really adding insult to injury.
“Since the compensation rule – known as the training fund contribution – was introduced by the SFA in 2006, it has been almost completely ignored by the professional clubs. There must be hundreds and hundreds of cases of non-payments to boys clubs.
“I came across the rule completely by accident – I don’t think other boys clubs are even aware they are due money from professional clubs who have taken their players since 2006.
“The onus is on the pro clubs to make the payments to the Scottish Youth Football Association – who should then redistribute the money to the relevant boys clubs. I don’t blame the SYFA or the SFA for this. It’s the clubs who haven’t been making the payments.”
Musselburgh Windsor, for whom former Scotland striker Kenny Miller once played, believe that, not only should the senior clubs pay all the compensation the are due – which could run into thousands of pounds – but that the £10 should be replaced by something more realistic.
“Boys clubs are facing escalating costs for facilities, kit and mandatory SFA coaching courses,” Robertson pointed out. “Sponsorship is tailing off and some clubs are really struggling to make ends meet.
“Yet, despite increasing difficulties, and the fact that almost every boy in Scotland starts his football career with one of our clubs, there is no money trickling back down from the top.
“What you have to bear in mind is that, once a boy is taken from us and joins a professional club, he can be subject to what has been described as a ‘children’s transfer market’. The senior clubs receive sums of between £600 and £15,000 when boys as young as 11 move between clubs.
“Meanwhile we get £10 – or not as has been the case. That figure is far too low. If it was even raised to £50 it might make the senior clubs think twice about signing so many of our players.
“At the moment they are like kids in a sweet shop. They pick and choose our best players and take as many as they want.
“The reason our club has made a complaint to the SFA’s compliance officer is because we want to make all boys clubs aware that they haven’t been receiving the payments they are due – paltry though they are.
“We believe all the money owed to the boys clubs should be paid retrospectively. A debt is a debt, whether it’s owed for a week or seven years.”
Last night an SFA spokesman said: “We cannot comment until such time as a notice of complaint has been issued. However, the compliance officer does investigate all matters referred to him to determine whether there is a case to answer.”