How much (or little) Sheffield Wednesday will receive from George Hirst’s move to Belgium

George Hirst looks set to sign for Belgian side OH Leuven when his Wednesday contract runs out
George Hirst looks set to sign for Belgian side OH Leuven when his Wednesday contract runs out
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Sheffield Wednesday stand to receive no more than £159,000 for the transfer of George Hirst, The Star understands.

The 19-year-old striker confirmed a surprise switch to Belgian second tier side OH Leuven - a sister club of Leicester City managed by Wednesday legend Nigel Pearson - following the expiry of his contract with the Owls.

Owls owner Dejphon Chansiri

Owls owner Dejphon Chansiri

As Hirst is under 24, Wednesday are entitled to receive compensation from Leuven, in acknowledgment of the investment they made into developing him as a youngster.

But while domestic transfers of young players see compensation fees decided by either negotiations or an independent tribunal, international switches come with specific fees.

FIFA regulations lay out details for ‘training compensation’ due when a player leaves the club that has developed them in order to join another side abroad.

All professional clubs are categorised within their continental confederation based on the amount of investment in youth development.

And each category comes with a pre-defined compensation figure due upon the transfer of a young player.

It is understood that Leuven fall into UEFA’s category three, which guarantees 30,000 euros (approx £26,400) per year of development of a young player post-16, plus a lower amount for each year between 12 and 16.

With Hirst having joined the Owls around the age of 12, the club could be due up to seven years worth of compensation, with three years of that at 30,000 euros per year.

In total, Wednesday should be due around 180,000 euros (approx £159,000).

This nominal figure will come as another blow to Wednesday at the end of a long-running and bitter saga over Hirst’s future.

The Owls turned down a £2million bid for the England U19 international last summer from Leicester.

While it was uncertain whether the striker would sign a new contract at Hillsborough, there was a belief among the Wednesday hierarchy that the club would not find themselves too out-of-pocket if he joined another English club on expiry of his deal.

There was a confidence that the tribunal system would deliver a compensation figure close to, if not in excess of, the rejected Leicester bid.

A tribunal ordered Chelsea to pay Exeter City up to £2.5m for 17-year-old Ethan Ampadu earlier this year. League Two side Exeter were due £1.3m guaranteed with a further £1.25m based on appearances.

Wednesday stood their ground last summer when Hirst rejected the new contract - one which would have broken the club’s young player wage structure and made him the highest paid teenager in Owls history.

The striker was frozen out at all age levels and did not appear for the club’s U23s until February.

But there was no thawing of relations at that time and it was emphatically stated that Hirst was not available for selection for Wednesday’s first team.

A departure from Hillsborough this summer was an inevitability but a move abroad came as a surprise.

But there is speculation now that Leicester may be using their relationship with Leuven as a loophole to eventually get Hirst to the King Power Stadium for a much lower price than if he had arrived direct from Wednesday.