Luke Francis is 16, likely a name that many, if any, have heard of. However, according to a story in The Mirror, he feel his career has been “crippled” by a contract signed when he was 11.
Francis signed on at Hillsborough for Sheffield Wednesday’s academy when he was just 11. However, feeling that the club weren’t a “good fit” for him, he left after just one season. However, this action has left him relegated to playing Sunday League football due to the compensation aspect that any team wanting to sign him up would have to pay the Owls to procure his services.
Francis, now 16, tells The Mirror that his decision to leave Sheffield Wednesday part way through his first season at Hillsborough means that he is actually still tied to the South Yorkshire club by “a binding pay-per-play deal” which effectively is blocking scouts and other clubs for taking a chance on him. The teenager himself tells the Mail Online that, “I know I’m good enough to be playing for a Football League club. What Wednesday are asking is ridiculous – it’s bound to put off other clubs.”
The question that begs to be asked is what could Championship side Sheffield Wednesday be asking for that would effectively drive scouts and interested clubs away from signing up the talented 16-year-old who now plys his trade with Handsworth Parramore Under-18s? The Sheffield Star give the answer as the following: a revised figure of £10,000 if he signs a professional contract, a 25% sell-on clause and £25,000 for every 10 appearances up to 100 appearances – effectively a cool £250,000. Suddenly, for walking out on an academy contract signed when he was 11, Luke Francis has effectively placed a quarter-of-a-million bounty on his head.
A spokesperson for Sheffield Wednesday, quoted in the Sheffield Star, puts the club position quite plainly stating, “We have tried to help Luke by waiving the Scholarship fee. And we’d suggest that if any striker played 100 games for a Championship team, then he would be worth more than £250,000. The rules are there for a reason and there to be adhered to. We have clean hands in this and we have made a gesture in waiving the Scholarship fee to help him get on the ladder. ”
The Francis family are taking legal advice on the matter at hand regarding the compensation levels payable by any club interested in taking Luke Francis onto their books.