THE Motherwell chief executive Alan Burrows has come under fire from a section of the Lanarkshire club’s support for failing to secure the signature of Scotland Under-21 winger Jake Hastie on a long-term contract.

They argue that tying the 20-year-old to Fir Park until 2024 would have protected their investment but Burrows points out that Hastie, who is a summer signing target for Rangers, will not leave for nothing.

Burrows claims that handing out extended contracts for teenagers is a flawed business model and that he and the staff have already taken steps to ensure that a compensation fee of around £400,000 will have to be paid should Hastie move to Ibrox or anywhere else at the end of this season.

“Fans want to know why Jake and the other promising youngsters aren’t tied down until 2024 but we’re just protecting the club because, apart from anything else, not all of them will make it,” he said. “Clubs make mistakes with young players all the time. You think they’re going to keep developing at a certain rate but most of them don’t.

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“With a short-term contract you can come to some agreement about letting them go but if they have three or four years left to run you can forget that because the pay-off would be much bigger. We try to box clever with these things but there will come times when we take a punch in the face. We have David Turnbull, Adam Livingstone, Allan Campbell and James Scott on new deals but Jake hasn’t signed.

“Last summer we sent him to Alloa on loan and, in fairness, he wasn’t pulling up any trees, he wasn’t making big headlines. He was doing okay, though, and round about November, Stephen Robinson decided he needed pace and width at the top end of the pitch so he decided to bring Jake back in January, see how he does and maybe offer him new terms after seeing how he got on.

“Nobody here – or at Alloa – anticipated how unbelievably well he would do, scoring so many goals and creating assists as well. As a result of us waiting to see how he fared in the Premiership, he can now bank our offer and play the field, which he’s perfectly entitled to do. Now, if Jake does decide to go, we won’t be left empty-handed after his 10 years at the club. We’re still optimistic that he’ll stay but we’re aware he has other options.”

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Burrows hopes that Hastie, who has seven goals from his 13 appearances this year, will decide that his development can be best served by staying put for at least one more season.

“As far as I’m aware, he hasn’t signed for anyone else yet,” claimed Burrows “We’ve offered him a number of improved contracts but, when you’re doing well and scoring goals, your representatives can hold out for more. We’re now at the point where we’ve made him the best offer we possibly can within the club’s wage structure and we’ll see where that takes us.

“Because Jake’s out of contract he has a little leeway to be patient in terms of other suitors coming in for him. The nature of training compensation as introduced by FIFA means that we cannot ever take that offer from the table because if we were to do that we’d effectively lose our right to compensation. So while he has a good contract from us, he can afford to be a little more adventurous when it comes to holding on for alternative offers.

“What I’ve been concerned with in the last few seasons is ensuring that, even if we do lose players like Jake, we won’t lose them for nothing. How you do that is by making certain that their contracts expire on or before the season of their 22nd birthday - if you do that, then you’ll still receive compensation.

“In the past – with Jamie Murphy, Shaun Reynolds and Shaun Hutchinson – the club put those players on long-term deals with a view to selling them. It transpired that they stayed for three or four seasons and, when we did trade them on, we got very little from them.”