|IBE WINDFALL'S KICK-IN
(Friday 4th September 2015)
Former Wanderers schoolboy player Jordon Ibe's England U21 debut against the USA on Thursday (3rd September 2015) could be the latest trigger for 'add-on' clauses attached to his move from Wycombe to Liverpool in December 2011. Still only 19 years old, Ibe has also passed the 20 senior appearance mark for the Anfield club and COTN understands that will start delivering five figure payment clauses to the Wanderers finances.
Ibe's move Liverpool came after he hit the headlines for scoring a spectacular goal against Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday 29th October 2011 to make him the youngest ever senior scorer for the Wanderers at 15 years and 325 days. Ibe's wonder strike was also the catalyst for transfer speculation rarely seen at the Club before.
His move to Liverpool was eventually confirmed in December 2011 and although the fee was 'undisclosed' at the time, information that has come to light since gives more background. Wycombe Wanderers FC accounts for the 2011/12 season, published in May 2013, show a profit from the sale of players of £982,000. This figure comes from a period where Wanderers also sold Kadeem Harris to Cardiff City for another 'undisclosed' fee. The initial fee Liverpool paid to Wanderers is believed to be in the region of £500,000 which was the 'down payment' revealed in Michael Calvin's 2013 book about football scouts, 'The Nowhere Men'. The books reveals that Liverpool scout Mel Johnson, a friend of then Wycombe Manager Gary Waddock from his QPR days, had been tipped off the day before of Ibe's start against Sheffield Wednesday. The book goes on to describe Wanderers' scout John Griffin's role in the deal and how he had also 'engineered a £350,000 move to Cardiff for teenaged winger Kadeem Harris'.
However, the near £1m profit from those transfer sales were merely a panacea for the accute financial state of the Club at the time. Wanderers had just recorded a loss of £1.2m for the 2010/11 season and accounts for the 2011/12 season would still register a loss of £600,000 despite the massive windfall from the Ibe and Harris transfers. Wanderers became Trust owned in June 2012 and this coincided with the closure of the Club's 'Centre of Excellence' and Youth Team departments in a controversial cost cutting exercise.
The Club have benefited several times from the legacy of the fruits of the youth system that had been in place since 1995 but a resurrection is unlikely any time in the near future. Current Club Chairman Andrew Howard said there were no plans to re-introduce a fully fledged youth system when questioned at a Fans Forum in July 2015. Instead, links with the Youth systems at other clubs, including Brenford and Aston Villa, may be alternative - as proved by the success of Aaron Pierre and Alfie Mawson.
Ibe's England U21 debut also came on the same night that Kourtney Hause continued his Three Lions career. Hause, another product of the Wanderers Youth system, managed then by now Assistant Richard Dobson, joined Wolves in January 2014 for another 'undisclosed' fee, although believed to worth in the region of £200,000. Manager Gareth Ainsworth, commenting in the local press shortly after the England/USA game, said: "Jordan and Kortney were both fantastic products of a youth system which Richard Dobson was a huge part of. It would have been great to keep it going, but those decisions were made a long time ago. I've probably seen the last of them come through. If I'm still the manager here when the next one comes through, I will have had a long career with Wycombe Wanderers. To start a youth system up from scratch would be financially impossible at the moment, but if we did, time-wise you're talking six or seven years before it bears any fruit in the first team. You have to start with 12-13 year olds." The Wycombe boss added: "Richard (Dobson) fought hard to keep the last one going, and it says something that all our players of youth team age when it was scrapped were taken up by Football League clubs. We now have other clubs scouting in our area, like Chelsea, Reading, Oxford, Brentford and MK Dons. We have elite centres at universities and colleges, but academies are where the best players go."
However, supporters hoping that the payments from the Ibe deal will find their way to the current playing budget at Adams Park will have to think again. 'Add-ons' from player sales made before the Trust take over in June 2012 have been agreed to pay off the outstanding debt to former owner Steve Hayes.
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