YORK City’s decision to carry on running an under-18 team has been applauded by youth football lobbyist Jez George.

The Minstermen announced this week they will continue to field a side in the Football League Youth Alliance for 2011/2 – which could represent the club’s NINTH campaign as a non-League outfit.

Since the summer of 2006, City have received no funding from the Football League towards youth development whereas, prior to their relegation to the Conference, the Bootham Crescent club were entitled to an annual grant of £138,000.

That figure was halved during their first two years outside the Football League before being withdrawn completely.

The repercussions of that scenario saw City’s Blue Square Bet Premier rivals Mansfield Town close down their youth team this season.

Cambridge United director of youth George, meanwhile, joined the Abbey Stadium club after they had also taken the difficult decision to dispense with junior football following their relegation from League Two in 2005.

Since then, he has helped to set up Cambridge’s youth and community trust. The club now run a team in the Ridgeons Premier League, which includes a mixture of under-18 scholars and reserves.

George has also campaigned vigorously for a restructuring in how youth football is funded in this country, embarking on the 410-mile “Walk For Change” at the end of last season that saw him visit six of the Conference’s former Football League clubs before making his way to Wembley by foot for the FA Trophy final. His Protect Football’s Future Group also collected close to 3,000 signatures on their Fair Youth Funding Policy petition with past-and-present Premier League stars Dave Kitson, Danny Murphy, Curtis Davies and Jack Collinson among those pledging support.

On learning the Minstermen intended to continue financing youth football at Bootham Crescent, George, above, said: “Considering that the club have been in the Conference for eight seasons now, it’s a fantastic achievement.

“Some clubs take the easy option and close their youth departments as soon as the funding runs out, so the likes of York and their communities deserve credit for continuing to run high-quality youth development programmes without funding.

“It shows they are doing it for the right reasons, not just because it ticks a box as a means of bringing money in like some Football League clubs might do.”

George, who raised £55,000 from last season’s walk, is also hoping clubs such as City and Cambridge will soon regain financial assistance from the relevant authorities, regardless of which division their first team plies its trade in.

The FA’s director of football development, Sir Trevor Brooking, and Jed Roddy, the Premier League’s head of youth, are both receptive to the need for change.

Added George: “I’ve met with Trevor Brooking and Jed Roddy and some progress has been made but it’s a very slow process.

“Jed Roddy is waiting for the Premier League to rubber-stamp some proposals he has made to overhaul how youth football is classified in this country, which is exactly what the teams relegated out of the Football League want. There will be a more qualitative approach and, if you are a full-time professional club and meet the criteria then, regardless of what league you are in, you will receive funding.

“The main criteria will be how successful clubs are at producing young talent. Convincing the FA should not be an issue either because they have been very supportive.

“More importantly, we need the Football League to back the proposals because, if we have their support along with that of the FA and then the Football Conference, it will happen.”

Last summer, the Premier League agreed to pump £6 million into the Conference over a three-year period and the oft-maligned body also empathise with youth-funding problems with relegated top-flight clubs facing similar issues to their poorer relations at the bottom of the Football League pyramid.

“The Premier League are our biggest allies because they have a similar situation,” said George.

“The likes of Middlesbrough’s youth department, who are producing England players, are now being treated the same as, say, Macclesfield funding-wise after their first team were relegated.

“Our argument is that football has changed and there are so many professional clubs in the Conference now with another two coming down from the Football League every season.”

Parslow reaches summit of player standings

DANIEL Parslow has moved back to the top of The Press Player of the Year standings after a man-of-the-match performance against Forest Green.

The former Wales Under-21 international, pictured above, picked up three points towards the contest to climb above fellow defender David McGurk at the summit of the leaderboard.

Jamie Reed (two points) and Ashley Chambers (one) were also recognised for their efforts as our second and third-highest rated players in the 2-1 win.

The two Player of the Month bonus points on offer to the player who polled the most man-of-the-match votes from visitors to our website went to Parslow as well.

Don’t forget to cast your man-of-the-match vote for future fixtures by visiting the yorkpress.co.uk website to be in with a chance of presenting the Player of the Month with a framed photograph on the pitch before a City home encounter.

The Press Player of the Year standings: Parslow 24 points, McGurk 23, Lawless 18, Meredith 16, Rankine 14, C Smith 12, Gash 11, Till 11, Ingham 8, Young 8, Barrett 6, Sangare 6, Chambers 5, McDermott 5, Racchi 5, J Smith 5, Weir 4, Boucaud 3, Carruthers 3, Constantine 2, Fyfield 2, Reed 2.

The Press Player of the Month for January latest standings: Rankine 8, Barrett 6, Boucaud 5, Parslow 5, C Smith 5, Weir 5, McGurk 3, Young 3, Ingham 2, Meredith 2, Reed 2, Carruthers 1, Chambers 1.

Goals: Rankine 10, Constantine 6, Till 4, Lawless 3, Barrett 2, Chambers 2, Racchi 2, J Smith 2, Brodie 1, Fyfield 1, Gash 1, Mackin 1, McDermott 1, Reed 1, Sangare 1, C Smith 1, Young 1.

Assists: Rankine 10, Carruthers 4, Gash 4, Chambers 3, Lawless 3, Parslow 3, Fyfield 2, McGurk 2, C Smith 2, Till 2, Barrett 1, Brodie 1, Constantine 1, Meredith 1, Weir 1.

Bad boys: J Smith two red cards, four yellow; Lawless six yellow; McGurk, Rankine both five yellow; C Smith, Young both three yellow; Boucaud, Brodie, Carruthers, Chambers, Gash, Meredith, Parslow, Racchi, Sangare all two yellow; Ingham one red; Barrett, Weir both one yellow.

Lisles aims to complete Tigers feat

Dean Lisles - a member of last season’s successful City youth team – has been handed a chance to earn a pro contract at Championship club Hull.

Centre-back Lisles, surprisingly released by the Minstermen in October, will play for the Tigers’ reserve team until the end of the season having also previously been on trial with Middlesbrough.

Thursday’s teaser-time

YORK Minstermen will hold their next monthly quiz on Thursday, February 3, in the Pitchside Bar at Bootham Crescent.

Doors will open at 7pm with the quiz starting at 8.30pm. Entry is £1 per person for a maximum of four members per team.

Duo’s dutiful date at Pocklington FC

GOALKEEPER Michael Ingham and midfielder Neil Barrett will be guest speakers of Pocklington Minstermen on Wednesday, February 16.

Admission is free at Pocklington Town Football Club’s sports and social club with doors opening at 7pm for a 7.30pm start. Children are welcome if accompanied by an adult.