Mick McDermott tells English clubs: It’s time to stop ripping off Irish league

Glentoran boss Mick McDermott has told English and Scottish clubs it is time to stop “copying” the Irish league.

He also believes that Brexit has made Northern Ireland’s talented young players a more attractive and valuable asset for clubs across channels.

Since leaving the EU, British clubs can no longer sign EU nationals under the age of 18, which means our academy players will be on the radar of cross-channel scouting.

But while more of our young talent here may end up across the water, McDermott said local clubs should also be properly compensated.

“English clubs cannot sign European passport holders until they are 18, so they can no longer fill their academies with young Dutch, Croatian or French players,” he said.

“It makes our players more valuable, more of an asset, but the reality is that English clubs have been taking away Irish league clubs for far too long.

“It’s great that Brexit has made our players a more attractive asset, but it’s time for the clubs here to get what they deserve.”

McDermott said Irish League clubs should receive a “fair” development fee for players coming through the Northern Ireland academy system.

“UEFA has a clear development fee structure from the age of 12,” he said. “If the development fee is £50,000, we are entitled to it.

“But over the years we’ve been forced to sign compromise agreements and sell for £5,000, £10,000 or £12,000.

“Players were worth £5,000 or £10,000 during my time here. English clubs have been taking advantage of our clubs for years, but those days are gone.

“The FAI backed their clubs and told (English) clubs to pay the full development fee or the players wouldn’t go. It’s been that way for years, but we don’t have the same situation here.

“We just said ‘Treat us fairly and pay our players a fair price’.

“Following UEFA’s rules on development fees, we will work with you if you propose a reasonable compromise to us.

“Of course we can sign compromise agreements, but the club should never be extorted. We need to work together to keep the money in the game.

“Let’s look at the value that clubs like Blackpool, Middlesbrough and West Ham pay our clubs to players because that money comes from local games.

“If we’re treated fairly, it’s a good result for our club and for the grassroots players who have worked with these players since childhood.”

McDermott believes more academy players here will be given the chance to cross the waters due to the impact of Brexit on English football.

He said: “Clubs in England need to fill their academies, so where do they get players? Northern Ireland is now an option.

“We’ve moved five players to English clubs since the summer and it’s been fantastic for them. Other clubs have also moved players.”

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