English giants Manchester United have managed to secure the services of Bill Hartley from Fleetwood Town for a significant training compensation fee, it has been officially announced.
The Fishermen have a proud heritage of bringing through highly-rated youngsters into the first-team before selling them for profit. In recent years, Sunderland star Jay Matete, Aston Villa’s Josh Feeney and Blackburn Rovers defender James Hill are just a few examples of Fleetwood’s academy producing fine talents.
However, Hartley has yet to even get to the first-team before being snapped up by one of the world’s biggest teams. At 12, Hartley will join Man United’s youth system and will train at the team’s esteemed Carrington facility.
Speaking at the official announcement of the goalkeeper’s departure, Academy Manager Jack Higgins said [quotes via club media]:
“We are really proud of Billy joining Manchester United. It’s an incredible achievement for him to be joining one of the biggest clubs in the world.
“It shows again the progression of our Academy and supporting players moving to their next destination at an age and stage that is right for them – every player and their journey is different.”
Higgins also heaped huge praise on Fleetwood Town’s Transition Lead Phase Coach Mike Hall for his decision to convert Hartley from an outfield player to a goalkeeper where he has flourished ever since.
“Billy joined us within our Pre-Academy over four years ago and has spent the whole time under the guidance of Mike Hall, our current Transition Lead Phase Coach,” he continued.
“Mike deserves a huge amount of credit for not only his support in Billy’s personal development but also his role in converting him from an outfield player to a goalkeeper, to allow him to flourish enough for opportunities like this.”
Despite the issues in the first-team this season, having sacked former head coach Scott Brown so early into the campaign after a disastrous start, this is some positive news for fans to read.
Fleetwood Town may be in turmoil on the pitch but the academy system is still thriving, leading to profit for the club as a whole which could benefit the League One side further down the line.