Allegations have been made against SPL side St.Mirren over the way they have used their Under-20 and youth players over the past week. Scotzine has been informed that the Paisley club used their youth players as labourers, to help workers install the double membrane air dome supplied by Inflatable Building Structures Limited.
According to our source, head of youth development at St.Mirren Park instructed his charges to help out the construction workers readying the site and erecting the dome last week. However, at least two of the players refused to do the work, with one stating that ‘it was dangerous’.
The inflatable dome which is currently being erected by the SPL side, will cover the three five-a-side artificial pitches behind the stadium’s North Stand at an estimated cost of around £150,000.
The player reportedly linked with refusing to do the work, 18-year-old Jack Smith, allegedly told Longwell: “This is dangerous, I don’t know what I am doing. It’s construction work, and these blokes don’t even speak English. They’re losing the rag with us.”
Longwell reportedly told Smith to ‘take the weekend off’ and ‘report to the manager’s office on Monday at 10am’.
Our source claimed that Jack Smith, son of Andy Smith, was fined on Monday by the club over his refusal along with an unnamed 17-year-old team-mate.
It also came to our attention that a player coming back from an injury was also instructed to help work on the site.
When contacted, St.Mirren general manager Brian Caldwell, said that the club called for: “as many people as possible to help with the cover [of the dome]on Friday. This included players from the Under-20s and the community boys.”
He refuted the claims that any of the players refused to help with the work, citing that “the work itself was for the benefit of not only the youth sides, but also the community itself” and that the work “was not construction”.
When asked of Smith’s refusal to work, Caldwell added that “the players all helped out and that Jack left early that day”. However he denied that the club had sent the youngster home and fined him, adding that the wages had been paid as normal this week with no deductions.
However, we asked our source once again if the player had been fined, he continued to confirm that the player had been fined and added that, “St.Mirren youth players are routinely fined” and their “£85-a-week wages docked for a number of reasons, including appearance, wearing of coloured football boots and timekeeping”.
According to another source within the game, ‘youth players are obliged to report as and when, and to carry out any reasonable instructions given to them’.
The question is whether the allegations of players being used as labourers is a reasonable instruction – even if the facility is for the benefit of the same players.
The new modern apprenticeships, according to the Scottish FA website: “…recognises that the main priority of a youth development team within every professional club is to produce the best players possible. However, there is also a responsibility is to provide players with an education which will enhance their playing ability and off-field life.
“The Scottish FA’s Modern Apprenticeship in Sporting Excellence assists with the further education of young players at under-17 and under-19 level at various Scottish Premier League and Scottish Football League clubs across the country.
The modern apprenticeships act as a framework for clubs , it is supposed to help give the youth players a future after their football playing career comes to an end.
St.Mirren’s Under-20 side lost 3-1 last night to Hearts at the Hearts Academy, with Smith starting the game on the bench.