Barnsley FC are hopeful that John Stones’ £3m transfer to Everton will encourage more young stars to stay at Oakwell despite controversial new rules that mean bigger clubs could take them for less than £25,000.
Under the Football League’s Elite Player Performance Plan, which is new this season, clubs can sign players from under 16s down for £3,000 per year they have been at the selling club, who will have no choice if the player wants to leave.
That means that someone like Stones, who joined the club at the age of eight, could have been poached for just £24,000 before he signed his scholarship at Oakwell.
There are several players in the Reds’ under 16s and under 14s that are being closely monitored by Premier League clubs. But the Reds are hoping that the example of Stones, who played 28 times for the first team before leaving last month, and their growing reputation as one of the best academies in the country, will convince the next wave of potential first teamers to stay at Oakwell.
“It is a bit worrying that our best young players could potentially leave at the age of 14 or 15 for maybe six or nine grand,” said academy coach Ronnie Branson.
“The EPPP has brought us more funding and allowed us to hire more coaches but it means we could lose players for peanuts.
"All we can do is make our facilities and environment as good as possible and hope that the lads realise that they have a pathway to the first team here. The success of John Stones is a great example for us to use.”