With Kieron Forbes making the move to Forest Green Rovers I thought in the best traditions of this blog that I would try and explain what is involved in such a move.
Like many of the young players we sign following their release by a football league club the ambition to have a future in the game remains and our challenge is to prove to the player that we can help develop them so they can get another chance in the pro game.
This was the situation for Kieron when he joined us from Watford as a 17 year old two and a half years ago. Since he has been with us Kieron impressed everybody with his talent, his application and his performances. Just as he seemed to be about to be a major player for us last season following the Rotherham game he got a nasty knee injury that ruined the rest of his season. For me this was an important factor in us not getting in the play-offs last year.
We exercised our option on Kieron’s contract to ensure he would stay with us for this season and back fit he has again performed well. improving steadily to be a major player for us. Certainly one we did not want to lose.
In November Kieron had the opportunity to train with Forest Green for a few days. After that we have been in lengthy discussions with Forest Green, with Kieron and his father and amongst ourselves to try and arrive at the best outcome for all parties.
From the Wealdstone perspective we wanted to keep Kieron for as long as possible. We were not prepared to let him go while we were still in the FA Trophy. Then we needed to make sure that if we were to agree a deal then we were suitably recompensed for releasing him from his contract so he could sign for the Blue Square Bet Premier Club.
We talked to Kieron and his father about our recent track record of moving players on, how we can create interest (citing the Jermaine experience) and how momentum can quickly get going. We even pointed out how we might even be in the same division as Forest Green next season (if results go well for us and badly for FGR for the rest of the season). But it is a risk to a player not enjoying life ‘working’ and playing part time football and seeing what might be possibly his only opportunity of progressing in front of him.
Trying to agree the value of a player is a very subjective matter and you have to take into account several factors. These include the values of past players, the club (and level) they are going to, the player’s contract situation and indeed the player’s own desire to leave. Typically there is then a negotiation and while we were prepared to try and to agree a deal we did have a bottom line and for a while we would not accept what Forest Green were offering us so no deal could take place until we reached a deal we could all agree. Once that was in place it was for Forest Green and the player to agree personal terms, and also go through a medical. Only then would we release him from his contract allowing him to sign for FGR in time for him to make his debut today coming on as a second half substitute in Forest Green’s win at Bath City.
I believe Kieron will have only good things to say about Wealdstone FC but ultimately with a Club two divisions above offering the opportunity back into full time he wanted to make the move.
Whatever we as fans and onlookers think about whether players could or should have “done better” or gone to a supposedly ‘better’ club it is easy to speculate but another thing to be faced with what is a life changing decision. None of us have the hindsight of knowing what might happen and the same is the case here. Perhaps no one else would come in, perhaps he would get another season ending knee injury in the next game any number of things might happen.
Kieron’s situation is no different to the same quandary any of us are in when considering whether to take a new job opportunity. Although there was some passing interest from 1-2 other clubs, Forest Green were the only ones who came in with a tangible offer to give Kieron the chance to be a full time footballer again.
We also took into account that most likely, as a free agent at the end of the season, Kieron was likely to move on and we felt there was a real risk of seeing his performances nosedive if we insisted on keeping him against his (and his father’s) wishes for the rest of this season. It comes back to the fact again that Wealdstone are a Ryman Premier League part time club and I believe it is wrong to stop a young player fulfilling his dream of going back full time should the opportunity present itself.
So with a heavy heart, but an inevitability, Forest Green got their man. We received a small fee, a decent sell-on clause and a first team friendly and can now list another player that we have successfully moved back to full time football. For the likes of Jonathan North, James Hammond, Kurtney Brooks and others this is proof that coming to Wealdstone is a good move and they might be next.
For us we need to quickly plug the gap that losing this player will cause us, but as we have done in the past we will endeavour to do this again and we will follow Kieron’s career with interest as we do with Marvin McCoy, Carl Martin, Graeme Montgomery and of course Jermaine Beckford. Good luck Kieron and let’s all hope you achieve everything you want to in the game.