PFA question Dunfermline actions

West Brom midfielder Isaiah Brown will become the youngest

player to appear in the Premier League if he makes his debut

against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

Steve Clarke has confirmed Brown will be part of his squad for

the trip to West London and he could be named on the bench at the

tender age of 16 years and 54 days.

If the England U17 international does feature at some point, he

will surpass Fulham’s Matthew Briggs’ previous record, set in 2007,

by 11 days.

Albion have been struggling with injuries and had to seek

permission to take Brown out of school to train with the squad this

week.

The teenager has been part of Albion’s academy set-up for the

past three years, with Arsenal understood to be tracking his

progress after he impressed for their U18 and U21 sides.

He is currently studying his GCSE exams but West Brom’s recently

acquired status as a Category One academy means they can take over

young players’ academic studies.

Brown would also be Albion’s second youngest debutant if he

plays, behind only Frank Hodgetts, who was 16 years and 26 days

when he appeared against Notts Country in 1940 in a war-time

contest.

The Wales forward has been linked with Real, and their big

rivals Barca, after a stunning season that has seen him fire in 23

goals for club and country.

Madrid are thought to have made the 23-year-old their number one

transfer target, and Bale would no doubt be tempted by a move to

the nine-times European champions should they come calling this

summer.

Villas-Boas remains confident of hanging on to his man, however,

and the Tottenham boss warned Real president Fiorentino Perez he

would find it extremely hard to deal with his opposite number

Daniel Levy.

He also believes Bale can realise his aims with Spurs.

“I think for a player to develop to his full potential, it can

be done perfectly in this league,” Villas-Boas said. “I think

Gareth has that in mind, not only regarding Spurs but regarding

this league too.

“We have the best league in the world in my opinion. The best

clubs are continuing to attract the best players over.

“We don’t want Gareth to go by any circumstances. I have told

you in the past that our chairman is very, very difficult to deal

with.

“We will try to hold on to our assets. We believe that we have

to hold on to the best players in order to achieve our

objectives.”

Thompson joined Tranmere Rovers from Dale last summer and has

scored twice in 22 appearances for the League One

promotion-chasers.

Tranmere have the option to recall the 23-year-old after the

first 28 days of his spell at Spotland.

“Joe needs games and due to injuries and the form of other

players he’s not played as much as he would have wanted here,” said

manager Ronnie Moore on Rovers’ official website.

“This gives him the opportunity to play first team football at a

club he knows very well.”

The Scottish First Division club’s players have been

experiencing delays in payments for several months and only

received the final part of their January wages earlier this

week.

And PFA Scotland said there was “little prospect of payment in

full in the immediate future” for this month’s wages.

Chief executive Fraser Wishart said in a statement: “Our members

have shown a great deal of patience and understanding in recent

months. Players at that level are not highly paid therefore any

delay in payment of wages can lead to hardship, inconvenience and

upset.

“As professional footballers they understand the importance that

a football club has in the eyes of the fans and the community and

they thank those who have sent messages of support.

“There comes a time however when as a squad they have to make a

stand and invoke their statutory rights.

“In addition to the late payment of salaries there are

outstanding win bonuses and appearance monies due for quite some

time.

“The club has advised our members that they are unable to

provide an undertaking that the outstanding sums will be paid and

so appear not to be able guarantee a remedy to the contractual

breaches.

“PFA Scotland has therefore been instructed to intimate a formal

complaint to the SFL for illegal deduction of our members’ salary

and for breach of contract by the club.”

Wishart called for a speedy response from the SFL to help

players, who were reported to be considering strike action ahead of

Saturday’s scheduled clash with Partick Thistle.

“I am sure the SFL board will recognise the importance of this

matter both to our members but also to helping the club through

this difficult time by ensuring that it can complete its fixtures

for the season,” he said.

“Given the unique circumstances of this matter, and the hardship

being caused to our members, we have requested that the SFL board

set up an adjudication panel to hear our members’ complaints as a

matter of considerable urgency.”

He added: “Dunfermline is a proud club with a great history

within Scottish football and our members will continue to assist

with its survival.

“What cannot go on however is that our members, who are not

highly paid, are asked to turn up for training when they cannot

justify the travel costs and then put themselves at risk of injury

on a weekly basis without any sign of being paid.”

Pars manager Jim Jefferies on Thursday expressed fears that

there was no light at the end of the tunnel after being told of the

latest delay.

Jefferies said: “The players have taken advice and gone through

the proper channels but it is getting to the stage now where you

are just hoping that they are sensible but what can they do except

take drastic action? I just hope that it doesn’t come to that.”

The Scottish Football League said they would ask Dunfermline for

their response before the board consider any potential action.