Wednesday 9 July ~
There's lot happening at Selhurst Park at the moment. Unfortunately for Crystal Palace fans both current stories about their club involve losing young and highly rated footballers. It is usually difficult to agree, much less sympathise, with chairman Simon Jordan but in the case of 16-year-old John Bostock it's possible to do both. Failing to agree on a fee with Spurs for Palace's youngest-ever player and England Under-17 captain, the matter was taken to Football League arbitration. While Palace asked for an initial £2 million, rising by a further £2.5m dependant on appearances, the tribunal decided on an initial £700,000 rising to £1.25m.
Jordan reacted strongly and though at times his language (“I feel mugged and brutalised”) was a little over-emotive he was right. A dangerous pattern and precedent has been established, giving an even greater advantage to big clubs. John Bostock is rated as of the best teenage footballers in the country and Palace had rejected a £900,000 offer from Chelsea when the player was only 14. Jordan railed on behalf of his own club: “I have an academy who have produced a world-class footballer for someone else and got paid two-and-sixpence for it... The most disappointing thing is we had a player we nourished and cherished for nine years... It was John Bostock’s year next season at Palace and we weren’t going to sign central midfielders because we wanted to clear a path for him.” But he also questioned the tribunal's effect on youth development as a whole: “I don’t feel it sends out a good message to people who pump millions into youth development. And what’s going to happen to our young players when they are stockpiled in the butter mountains of the Tottenhams and Chelseas of this world?”
The news that a second young player may leave Palace this week was not announced through traditional media but in modern style (Facebook) and in particularly contemporary language by the player himself. Ashley-Paul Robinson, “Motor Mouth” to his friends, revealed his trial with Fulham not to his 198 personal contacts but to the 2.7m strong London network. Over the weekend, the winger, referring to himself in third person, boasted: “Ashley-Paul is goin fulham on Monday. If I pull dis off im on dis ting!!!” The following day, he added: “Ashley-Paul is off to Bath With Fulham. Fingers Crossed.” Obviously fans of the two London clubs involved were quick to spread this news so by Monday the 19-year-old was forced to admit: “Ashley-Paul has been very naughty lol!”
Palace fans reacted with a mixture of disappointment at losing another academy product, who had already been promised a new contract, and anger at the player's attitude whereas Fulham supporters had a subdued reaction, mostly concerned with Ashley-Paul Robinson's loyalty and command of English. If the Fulham move goes ahead Palace would be due a substantial fee for the player as he is under 23 years old. Simon Jordan may well have another tribunal to attend.