Blow for Blackpool as Rangers confirm the signing of highly-rated Southampton, Everton and Leeds United target
Rangers see off competition from Southampton, Everton and Leeds United to ‘win the race’ for Blackpool starlet
The Scottish giants have captured the 16-year-old for an undisclosed fee which is believed to be in the region of £250,000.
The Seasiders weren’t able to offer Weston a professional contract until his 17th birthday in September.
However, the club have confirmed they had a three-year contract on the table, the maximum permitted under regulations, in an attempt to secure Weston’s long-term future.
While chief executive Ben Mansford expressed disappointment at losing such a highly-rated youngster, he was keen to stress the Seasiders hold a financial interest in the forward’s future.
He said: “It is always disappointing to lose a young player, particularly one who is as talented as Tony and has been with the club for so long.
“The FIFA regulations offer the club very little protection against clubs from other nations targeting our talent when they turn 16 years of age.
“Notwithstanding the amount of time and effort that the club had spent developing Tony since the age of nine, we had no ability to ensure Tony remained with us.
“As a club that is seeking to develop its own talent through building our own academy, this is a situation that must be challenged as soon as possible as it cannot be right that we lose our best young talent for the amounts set down by FIFA.
“Whilst Tony’s exit is very disappointing, Rangers did handle the situation fairly and professionally. I would like to place on record our thanks to Rangers for their handling of this matter.”
Weston made his first-team debut for the Seasiders in December of last year.
The youth-team forward came off the bench in Pool’s 3-1 FA Cup second round win against Maidstone United.
Born in Liverpool, just doors away from where Rangers boss Steven Gerrard grew up, Weston has consistently impressed for the Under-18s and has won numerous academy player of the year awards throughout his time at Bloomfield Road.
Weston hit 14 goals for Blackpool’s youth-team in the early stages of the season and was promoted to first-team training by former manager Simon Grayson in November.
His debut on December 1 capped off a whirlwind week for the youngster, who had to be taken out of school to travel to Suffolk as a member of the Pool squad for the 2-2 draw at Ipswich Town.
The forward was then named as an unused substitute for Pool’s EFL Trophy defeat by Scunthorpe United, before making his debut the following Saturday.