THREE young footballers' dreams have been left in tatters after they were offered professional contracts by MK Dons – only to be told weeks later the club could no longer afford to pay them.
The Dons had verbally offered one year-deals worth 200-a-week to academy hopefuls Liam Kelly, Ollie Thorne and Miles Mitchell-Coop six weeks ago.
But on the final day of the season the talented trio were told the club could no longer afford to pay their salaries and the club would have to rescind its offers.
It has left the lads' careers in tatters, with trials at other clubs having taken place during the weeks they thought they were going to fulfil their boyhood dreams of becoming footballers.
A source close to the academy said: "It is disgraceful. The boys went to stadium:mk thinking they were going to sign their deals, only to be told by a member of the board that the offers were being taken back due to financial reasons.
"The boys just couldn't believe it. It is not as if they were going to be paid much."
The u-turn meant none of the second-year scholars at the club were offered deals this year.
Tom Williams was one of the hopefuls rejected and his dad Ian gave a damning opinion of the Dons' academy.
"It is incredibly unprofessional. The system is atrocious. They are holding on to academy status by the skins of their teeth – it must be the worst in the country.
"The first team are treated like Gods – there is no limit to expenditure on them – but not the academy."
The club's first team celebrated their recent promotion to League One with a swish trip to Las Vegas last week.
A spokesman for MK Dons said: "The current group of second-year apprentices were spoken to on Friday and were made formally aware there would unfortunately be no offers of professional contracts.
"After spending time developing with the club, informing young players of this decision is never an easy task and the club will do everything in its power to assist them in exploring other options in football or elsewhere.
"The club would like to thank each of these players for their contributions throughout their time here and wish them every success."