Colin Lee: Level playing field for fair play?

It has been reported Mauricio Pochettino will be offered £19m a year by Newcastle's prospective new

It has been reported Mauricio Pochettino will be offered £19m a year by Newcastle's prospective new owners - Credit: Archant

Having had a career in professional football for some 41 years, on my return to Torquay and eventually making the difficult decision to step out of the professional game, I wanted to give the youngsters in this area a chance to fulfil their football potential by giving them a unique football opportunity and an experience being associated with a Premier League Club.

In September 2015, the Chelsea Foundation Advance Centre was formed.

The centre is for selected players only age U7s to U13s. The training programme is designed and delivered to develop individual players in all positions, although we play the odd game it is not used for Team or Match Day development


I wasn't interested in delivering a programme to make money or charge parents a cost to break even, my only interest was to help the youngsters on their football journey/ pathway and give them a football opportunity and experience at a young age.

After discussions, Chelsea agreed to fund the complete programme and supply the training kit at a minimum cost to parents to help me support any miscellaneous costs.

The centre has now been running for five years and has an association with Exeter City and Plymouth Argyle.

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Our objective is to give the more gifted players an opportunity to progress into academy football which we believe is the best route for their development.

The centre will be starting back in September (providing we are free of coronavirus) delivering 27 sessions throughout the 2020/21 season.

It has proven to be a very successful programme averaging four players a season gaining academy status at professional clubs.

Fifteen players now train at Exeter City Academy and five players train at Plymouth Argyle Academy.

A trial evening is being organised for early September, talented players interested please contact me via email at


It was reported recently that Mauricio Pochettino, Newcastle's prospective new owners' number one choice, will be offered £19m a year.

If the deal falls through former Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez, now managing at Dalian Yifang in the Chinese Super League, is expected to return to St James's Park.

However, Newcastle's potential new owners may have to dig deeper to tempt him away from his £12m-a-year after tax contract in China.

After tax, Pochettino would be earning around £10m a year gross. That would put Pochettino ahead of Jose Mourinho his successor at Spurs presently earns £15m a year.

Pep Guardiola, Manchester City manager, would remain the highest-paid manager in the Premier League, grossing £20m a year.

I find these figures extortionate. For one person to receive a basic salary of this size before a ball is kicked just seems inconceivable.

I can come to terms with Benitez attracting wealthy owners looking for success having won 13 major trophies but Pochettino is yet to win a trophy.

Where have the days gone when managers were paid a decent basic salary and bonuses and a pay rise following success (winning promotion and cups)?

Price for success is costly at times but no manager before the start of the season can guarantee success regardless of his salary.

The game has certainly changed.

The level playing field at the very top is miles apart, created by vast differences in wealth. To compete, it has turned into wealthy owners prepared to pay anything for success.

Long term is this good for our game?

Financial Fair Play was introduced to prevent clubs going bankrupt and increase competition in European Football – has it worked?

Or is it a case where the rich get richer and the poor poorer?

Would a simple salary capping designed to limit financial risks and underpinning the integrity of the League be the answer, with all teams subject to the same spending limits?

In theory this would create a level playing field - just a thought.