The financial gulf between the English Premier League and the Scottish Premiership is vast, so Scotland has been seen as a stepping stone to England for the past 20+ years. Interestingly we are starting to see an increasing number of English teams losing stars from their academy to Celtic and Rangers.
Following the confirmation of Tobi Oluwayemi’s move to Celtic from Spurs as reported in The Daily Record, Premier League clubs should be starting to worry about their attitude towards young players.
Oluwayemi has joined Armstrong Oko-Flex, Glenn Middleton and Nathan Young Coombes in making the move north.
Admittedly it may take a few years for the effects of this to be felt by English clubs, but the warning signs are clear for them right now.
These players will likely never get close to a first team in England, due to the amount of money spent each summer on new signings and the financial importance of staying in the league.
In Scotland Celtic and Rangers will dominate 95% of their games each season and have built their squads in recent years to ensure they will finish first and second in the league going forward.
Glenn Middleton has played the most of these players since moving, having impressed enough to make 27 first team appearances for Rangers since moving.
Playing for the Old Firm guarantees you will play in a team who dominates possession and create chances. As a result it’s easier for a player to stand out and improve when they get multiple touches and chances to have a positive influence on the game.
They also offer the attraction of challenging for trophies, playing in Europe and playing in front of massive crowds. This makes it easy to see why younger players would rather swap years of U23 development football in England for a greater chance of playing for a massive club.
The real problem for Premier League clubs will come when players start to establish themselves in the Celtic or Rangers first team, become linked with big money transfers and possibly get international recognition.
English clubs need to act now to change their attitude towards young players and providing a realistic pathway to the first team, otherwise players will see the success of others who moved away earlier and want to do the same. Additionally if the Scottish club’s model proves to work, it won’t take long before other countries follow suit and younger English players will have even more chances to leave.