Wanderers will take on five players into their First Year Youth Team system for the 2005/6 season. Last season Wanderers took on eleven new names. However, with Clubs only allowed a maximum of 18 players on Youth Scholarships at any one time, the five new players brings Wycombe back towards this maximum figure.
Last season five from the eleven were picked from the Wanderers Centre of Excellence which develops players between the ages of nine and fifteen. One of those five, Shane Garricks, subsquently joined QPR. This season just one player of the new intake will have come through a system that costs Wycombe in excess of £100,000 a year to run. Head of Youth at Wanderers, Colin Barnes, commented in the matchday programme, "The level of player that we are looking for is higher than we have managed since I have been at the Club." Barnes, who joined Wanderers at the start of the 2003/4 campaign, added "With myself having spent many Saturday's and Sunday's watching the Premier Academy's Under 16's games, to enable us to know which lads would be available come the end of the season. The contact that Gary (Smith) and myself have within the game are extremely beneficial. We will be judged on our record of how many players proceed from the Youth Team through to the First Team."
Funding of the Youth set-up at Wycombe is partly financed by grants from the FA, Football Foundation, the Premier League, the Government and the PFA. The maximum grant attainable was £138,000 but this is likely to be cut next season after the PFA reduced their input by approximately £17,000 per club. PFA Chief Executive Gordon Taylor wrote to all Football League Chairman in March explaining the situation. The letter cited reduced television revenue as the main reason for the cuts in Youth funding.
Elsewhere in the Youth system at Wycombe, Stephen Gregory and Liam Grier have been confirmed as being retained for the football element of their third and final year Wanderers scholarship. Non-contract player Kieron Gradwell is expected to be released and decisions will also have to be made on first year professionals Rashid Ahmed, Sonny Ball, Russell Martin and Tamba Ngongou, while Matty Fox, the only Third Year scholar, is in a similar situation. All are 19 years old and will not be allowed to play for the Youth Team next season. Russell Martin, looks the most likely to earn a contract having broken into the First Team on a few occasions in 2004/5.
Click here for www.CHAIRBOYS.co.uk Wanderers Youth Team and Centre of Excellence Guide
Click here for Youth Team results and scorers 2004/2005
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