A Past Problem, a Present Issue or a Future Problem?

Date: 22nd October 2016


The massive issue within Scottish football might just be child slavery. Well you could be forgiven for thinking that if you were to listen to what happened when a 13-year-old turned out for the under 20s at Glasgow Celtic. Tam Baillie, the Commissioner for Children for Scotland certainly took offence.

Then in came Brenda Rogers who put his tuppence worth in as he told reporters he would not have allowed it – had he known. Before we disappear down a rabbit hole of who knew what and what needed to be known to who needed to know it, youth football is a bit of a battle ground.

As my own club have had this week their Club Academy Scotland visit, a new regime of audits for safeguarding has been announced by the SFA and regulation has probably never been higher, it is increasingly hard within Academies to fathom out what is the right thing – bureaucratically – to do. The problem for Academies is that they are in a system not of their own making.

Selling players, loaning them out and the very vocabulary used is problematic. It stinks and reeks of slavery and ownership. You would sell the family silver, loan out the bike in the shed but where else would you sell the wean and lend the kid to the neighbour?

In an age that some would make us believe is halcyon there were kids who kept their mouths shut and cleaned boots of the superstars, turned up after games to sweep the stands and be the good wee boys that waited their turns. Except the we had people like Jimmy Savile taking advantage – so please let us never return there.

The major issue – and I live bang next door to St Ninian’s in Kirkintilloch, where Celtic Boys get educated – is that some of the young lads have a lifestyle that is the envy of their peers and likely to make them as obnoxious as the amounts of money cast in their direction. These are not the wee guys cleaning boots or sweeping the stands; they are financially cleaning up and sweeping all before them in a charge to jaw dropping financial rewards in the name of contracts.

With so few making the grade and getting to do what Kieran Tierney gets to do – score from the edge of his own penalty box and then face the might of Borussia Munchengladbach, Munchen, Mounching… some German team, all in the same week, it’s a tough gig – or is it?

The decision just the last week of Liverpool Academy to introduce another halcyon policy of times of yore – a wage cap – is one thing that I think is right for them to attempt. In fairness a similar policy exists with Southampton and Tottenham Hotspur so they are not alone.

Now 17 year olds will not be able to earn more than a full time teacher with £40,000 being the cap. It is a basic salary. Well that should sort it then…


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