Come and join us to achieve top-flight ambitions

EVERY cloud has a silver lining. Just ask Patrick Cryne.

Although Barnsley supporters are feeling down in the dumps over the sale this week of winger Adam Hammill, the club's owner says it might just prove to be a positive in the long term.

Hammill's success will send a message to other young players about the benefits of a move to Oakwell and, according to Cryne, manager Mark Robins is already moving in on another prospective young star of the future at a Premier League club.

The Tykes, who host Swansea City today, are not just relying on loan signings, however, to build a brighter future.

Robins and his Academy staff are also developing a crop of home-grown youngsters who can ensure the club keeps moving in the right direction.

Victory over Tottenham Hotspur in the FA Youth Cup last month fuelled a belief that investment in the club's Academy is starting to pay dividends. If they can get past Rushden and Diamonds on Wednesday night, Barnsley will meet Chelsea in the last 16.

Cryne, who rescued his home-town club from administration seven years ago, rarely seeks publicity and prefers to stay out of the limelight.

Yet, speaking to the Yorkshire Post ahead of today's Championship match, he revealed his pride at the way Barnsley are dealing with football's difficult economic climate and changing the club's image along the way.

"Like any fan, I was disappointed to lose Adam Hammill and I would like the club to be moving forward more quickly – but I am still satisfied and very comfortable with the way things are going," he said.

"Financially, we operate within our means and we are making progress. There was no financial pressure on us to sell Adam – and we did not want him to go – but there was an escape clause in his contract which we had to insert in order to secure his services."

Hammill, 22, joined Barnsley from Liverpool two summers ago but the terms of the deal meant he was able to join any club willing to pay 500,000. After growing in stature and scoring a number of spectacular goals, he had soon become a wanted man.

Wolves, managed by former Barnsley hero Mick McCarthy, beat off competition from Blackpool, West Ham United and Nottingham Forest to sign the player and paid over 600,000 for the privilege.

Cryne promises that all proceeds from the sale will go straight back into the team and striker Danny Haynes is set to make his debut this afternoon after completing a 200,000 move from Bristol City.

"It is a painful truth but we have not been seen as a natural recruiting ground for Premiership clubs," he reflected. "For a number of years, you have not seen Premiership scouts at Oakwell looking to see what we have on show. Now we are changing that."

Players including Michael McIndoe, Brian Howard and Jamal Campbell-Ryce (all bought in) have moved for reasonable fees in the last decade but Barnsley supporters still wait for the club's first home-grown player to be sold for a seven-figure sum. Only Steve Agnew, sold to Blackburn Rovers for 700,000 in 1991, has really come close.

That day, however, may not be too far away and midfielder Reuben Noble-Lazarus is still being monitored by Manchester United after training with the Premier League club shortly after making his league debut at the tender age of 15.

"There are a lot of scouts looking at our youth team and we have been approached about releasing some players but we want to hang onto them," said Cryne.

"What has happened with Adam Hammill will hopefully help us attract more young players from top clubs. In Mark Robins, we have a manager whose real strengths are on the training field developing players. The top clubs will let us have access to their better young players if we promise that they will get developed and get into the side.

"We already have Kieran Trippier on loan from Manchester City and I know Mark is hoping to bring in another exciting young Premier League player soon.

"If they move here, they will develop as players and we are promoting that idea with several Premier League clubs."

Expectation among Barnsley fans rose disproportionately in 1997 when the team, under the guidance of Danny Wilson, won promotion to the top flight for the one and only time.

Although the Academy is a legacy of that success, a string of managers have tried and failed to lead the club back to the top.

Under Robins, who impressed at neighbours Rotherham United, the club briefly flirted with play-off qualification but tumbled to a final position of 18th last season once that goal was no longer achievable.

Again, there is hope of a play-off push but results need to improve after a return of just four points in the last five games.

"We hoped to be a little bit further up the table but we have been unlucky with some results," reflected Cryne. "We have a stronger squad than last season and we still expect to finish mid-table or better by the end of the season."

Cryne, evidently, is not a club owner who believes in putting undue pressure on his manager.

"Personally, I prefer to stay away from operational matters – allowing myself the luxury to raise criticisms with the management much as a fan might do, albeit with better direct access," he said. "The play-offs are not out of the question this season. I don't 'expect' that to happen but I hope it will.

"If you are a small but well-run club you can get up there via the play-offs. Look at some of the sides who have gone up to the Premier League in the last couple of seasons – Blackpool, Burnley, Hull – they were neither fashionable or resourceful but the order is changing in football."

Arriving at the age of 60, Cryne is reluctant to set a time limit on his involvement and is also extremely modest about his role at Oakwell. His financial support, however, has been invaluable.

"There are a lot of people within the club with a lot of passion and pride for Barnsley Football Club who have done more than me" he said.

"Whatever happens, I am a fan of this club for life and that will never go away. How long I stay will depend on my health and the potential for a successor. But I do hope that, before too long, I can hand on the club and it will be in better condition than when I inherited it."

Barnsley supporters will undoubtedly agree with that sentiment.

ian.appleyard@ypn.co.uk