Also a result of Financial Fair Play pressures
31 July ~ The seemingly endless wave of departures from Southampton that has so far seen five players leave in exchange for fees topping £60 million may have finally come to an end, with yesterday's announcement that Morgan Schneiderlin and Jay Rodriguez would not be allowed to leave. It has been accompanied by the customary complaints of a lack of ambition on the part of the club and an absence of loyalty from the players. The reported comments from Schneiderlin and Dejan Lovren – if accurate – represent particularly galling examples of the latter.
While undying devotion to one's employer is beyond realistic expectation, a basic level of respect is hardly unreasonable.
There have also been illuminating comments from other Premier League managers. Alan Pardew has used the high fees for Saints' English academy products as the reason why his club is forced to buy foreign players. Meanwhile José Mourinho claimed that meeting Luke Shaw's wage demands would have destroyed team spirit at Chelsea.
Surely these comments strengthen the argument that the Southampton approach to youth development is the model for all clubs. Saints, of course, are not the only club with an academy but the philosophy of keeping young players within the club as opposed to sending them out on long-term loans, giving them a chance in the first team and – perhaps most importantly – trusting them is what sets the Saints apart from their rivals. How long will it take for other clubs to start thinking longer than the immediate term and focus more on developing players in the proper manner? As Saints are showing, the rewards are worth the effort.
Several commentators have highlighted the impact that the Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules are having on clubs' finances. One effect has been to lock in the status quo in terms of clubs' asset bases. FFP may prevent future oligarchs from taking over and bankrolling clubs but those that have already been bankrolled have had time to adjust their business models and consolidate their positions. Meanwhile a club such as Southampton are effectively prevented from making that step up from possible contender from European qualification to Champions' League staple by the restriction of annual increases in the wage bill if it exceeds £52m.
Former chairman Nicola Cortese was known to be a vehement opponent of FFP and he would have realised better than anybody the effect that the rules would have on Saints. This – rather than any breakdown in relations with owner Katharina Liebherr – could have been the real reason for his departure earlier this year. Tim Springett