Pompey's greatest money-spinner continues at pace

Applause carried the triumphant Academy youngsters off the Fratton Park pitch.

Saturday, 19th November 2016, 9:30 am
Adam Webster was sold to Ipswich in the summer for £750,000 plus Matt Clarke

No price tags were evident – that time is still to come.

Presently, Pompey’s talented FA Youth Cup squad are focused on overhauling Newcastle following Wednesday night’s victory against Metropolitan Police.

Beyond that lies the lure of a full-time contract, the passport to life as a professional footballer.

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The Blues’ youth production line has proven prolific through a succession of coaching influences.

Similarly, revenues generated by the departure of home-grown products has long been a steady income for the club.

Since the Pompey Supporters’ Trust instilled self-sufficiency upon accession to power in April 2013, the club have collected transfer fees for five players.

Academy-reared duo Jed Wallace and Adam Webster have brought in a combined £1.55m.

Completing the numbers, Sonny Bradley, Nigel Atangana and Adam Barton have attracted total windfalls of around £168,000.

The importance of a thriving youth set-up remains significant, particularly in times inhabiting the lower realms of the Football League.

For those outside the Premier League, the resale value of recruited first-team members dwindle with worrying regularity.

In contrast, Academy products represent booming profits courtesy of transfer market recognition of both talent and potential.

Certainly it’s an area the Blues thrive in, with Conor Chaplin the latest prized asset.

The striker continues to be a popular draw among scouts, not that peering through the shop window necessitates a purchase, irrespective of latest Bournemouth rumours.

Wallace tells the tale how he was watched 55 times by Wolves – the last occasion being a 2-2 draw at Carlisle United in which he netted from long range.

Barely six weeks later he was finally recruited by his long-time admirers for a fee around £800,000.

Keen to avoid joining others scrambling to meet the £275,000 release clause, Wolves were tempted to substantially increase their offer. Canny work from chief executive Mark Catlin.

Wallace, was a member of the Academy side which hammered Bristol City in the FA Youth Cup in December 2011.

Sam Magri was eventually moved onto QPR, although Ashley Harris – who netted twice that night – was released and is now at Moneyfields.

Another team-mate, Ryan Williams, was sold to Fulham the following month for £295,000.

Incidentally, the Australian winger had netted twice against Manchester United the previous season.

United’s goalscorers in their 3-2 FA Youth Cup win included Paul Pogba and Will Keane, with Jesse Lingard a sub and Tyler Blackett also present.

Last summer, Webster moved to Ipswich in a deal which brought Matt Clarke and £750,000 to Fratton Park.

He was part of Pompey’s 2012-13 FA Youth Cup campaign which ended at Bolton in December 2012.

The defender scored in a 2-1 defeat, with Rob Holding among the hosts’ scorers. Holding also moved this summer – in a £2m switch to Arsenal.

Of that Pompey side, Jack Whatmough and Ben Close remain at Fratton Park, while Nick Awford, Bradley Tarbuck and Jack Maloney made first-team appearances.

It is understood, at the current Category 3 level, it costs Pompey between £175,000-£225,000 a year to run an Academy.

A hefty amount which has prompted Crawley, Brentford and Wycombe to scrap such a set-up.

Were it not for Football League grants via Premier League contributions, the cost would weigh in at £500,000-£600,000.

Yet for that significant outlay, the end product can often be exceptional, and the Blues’ cashing in on talent is not restricted to the current regime.

Joel Ward departed for Crystal Palace in May 2012 in a £400,000 deal with Pompey in administration and desperate to raise money.

He was in the youth side which defeated Fulham 1-0 in December 2007, with Tom Kilbey grabbing the goal.

Matt Ritchie was also part of that team, which would be knocked out the following round 2-1 by Plymouth.

Ritchie was sold to Swindon in January 2011 for a fee of around £200,000. with then-boss Steve Cotterill keen to offload.

Others such as Marlon Park and Paris Cowan-Hall left for nothing, yet remain in the Football League.

Current Pompey number two, Liam O’Brien, featured in a January 2010 FA Youth Cup victory at Spurs.

The hosts were captained by Harry Kane, with future first-teamers Steven Caulker and Tom Carroll also present.

The White Hart Lane encounter was settled by Nadir Ciftci, who would join Kayserispor in May 2011.

Pompey received £100,000 in training compensation.

Chelsea eliminated the Blues the following round, with future loanee Conor Clifford the match-winner for a side containing Josh McEachran.

Pompey’s left-back was Lenny Sowah, who would later join Hamburger SV for a £165,000 training compensation fee. Last month, the German joined Hamilton Academical.

Preceding him, Marc Wilson was part of the 2004 crop and, in August 2010, departed for Stoke in a cash plus Liam Lawrence and Dave Kitson deal.

As for Gary O’Neil, he attracted a £5m fee upon his departure to Middlesbrough in August 2007.

For Paul Cook, though, the Blues’ future is clear.

‘Going forward we don’t want to sell our players. I think the time when we are judged on getting stronger is when we stop selling,’ he said.

‘We have come through a lot of pain over the last few years and, eventually, soon that pain may go and we might be a strong club again.’

Yet with a steady stream of young talent at Pompey’s disposal, cashing in has long proven irresistible.