Boston United have announced that they will no-longer be running five of their Centre of Excellence teams.
Parents were informed at a meeting last night that the Pilgrims’ under nines, 10s, 11s, 12s and 13s are set to be scrapped.
Chairman David Newton told The Standard that the decision was made after a review of the youth structure.
He said: “If we look at it statistically, the point of the Centre of Excellence is to progress players into the first team, and most of that comes from the older sides.
“Looking at the statistics, the best players in the younger age groups don’t progress through the ranks with us.
“Normally they’re picked up by other clubs and that is of no advantage to us.
“Most of the players who come into the first team have joined around under 14, 15 or 16.
“And those who were with us from a young age (and progress to the first team) have left and come back again.”
The club will today decide whether or not to continue operating the under 13s next season to help progress that crop into next season’s under 14s.
Mr Newton also said that ‘running eight or nine teams was not viable financially’, but stressed that this was ‘not the main reason’ for the decision.
Angry parents have contacted The Standard to show their frustration.
One father, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “Hundreds of kids have been thrown into the wilderness with nowhere to play football.”
However, Mr Newton said that was not the case.
He added that the club is in talks with a league about entering additional teams alongside their current community squads.
My Newton stated these teams will all be rebranded as Boston United Juniors FC and ensure that all youngsters who wish to remain with the club can continue to play competitive football under the Pilgrims banner, with the ability to still progress into the Centre of Excellence.
Mr Newton said these youngsters would still be offered access to the club’s development centre, and the coaching which comes with that.
“We’ve spread ourselves too thin trying to manage so many teams,” he added.
“The point of the centre is to promote excellence within the club and we feel our productivity will be better if we concentrate on the age groups which we feel are producing players for the first team.
“We believe we will be more successful progressing players if we focus on that area.
“There have been some disappointed parents, and that’s understandable.
“But many who spoke to us afterwards were understanding and positive.”
Harry Vince, who made his England C debut this summer, is among the Centre of Excellence success stories.
A number of other youngsters have moved through the youth ranks into the first team in recent years, including Adam Millson, Alex Beck, Sam Vince, James Reed and Simon Ashton.
Other youngsters such as Carl Piergianni, Liam Adams and Zak Mills represented the Pilgrims’ youth sides, but didn’t break into the first team until they had spells with other clubs, while Tom Hopper made one appearance for the club before being snapped up by Leicester City’s academy.