Elite Player Performance Plan – An Insight.

This year plans have been announced for the Elite Player Performance Plan, an FA initiative to improve the long term development of homegrown players. Every professional club in the country has had to submit an application, based on which academy category status they feel they should be considered for. (Category 1-4. 1 being the highest.)

The category status a club receives is vital to their set up. It will determine their finances available, the control they have over their players and the academy fixtures they will have.

Young Star: Jack Wilshere has been with the same club since he was 9 years old, but unfortunately is one of few young English players that is in this bracket (source:Arsenal)

One vital aspect of the EPPP is that a Category 1 club will be able to take a youth player from a lower Category club for a fixed fee. The current club in which the player belongs to will have no bartering power with that fee and it is likely to be in the region of £30,000. In the past lower clubs have balanced the academy books through selling players to top clubs, but with the fixed fee in place – this will do little for lower teams. For example, only at the turn of the year, MK Dons U14 Seyi Ojo was sold to Liverpool FC for a figure that is likely to rise to  £2m. Under the new rules, MK Dons are likely to be given Category 3 status. As a result, in the future they will only receive a small fee if one of their academy players agrees to join a Category 1 club.

Dome: Tottenham’s indoor training facility at the Lodge training ground (source:google)

Below are some ‘criteria’ that will be assessed when deciding which Category a club should fall in to:

– Indoor/Outside training facilities.

– Classrooms as part of the training ground

– Close links with a local school.

– Separate changing/toilet facilities for players and spectators.

Potential Benefits From EPPP:

– It will allow clubs to have more contact time with their young players. Working towards strategic investment into the Academy system, which demonstrates value for money.

– It will help clubs create links with local schools to bring football and education closer. (Similarly to La Masia Academy – http://wp.me/p2a52G-5E).

– It will allow Category 1 clubs to recruit players from further afield compared to current rules. Aiming to get the best players to the clubs that can offer the best service to these players. Again similarly to Spain where if you are a top player in your age group, the likelihood is you will play for either Barcelona or Real Madrid.

Potential Drawbacks:

– Lower clubs will have far less power than bigger clubs – in terms of keeping their best players. They are unlikely to receive fair fees for their best young players. Without this income lower clubs are may struggle to maintain their systems.

– Although top clubs can offer better facilities/coaching etc. – It does not mean they are stronger at eventually progressing young players to the first team. For example, Chelsea FC’s Cobham based Academy has arguably the best facilities in England, yet from the current regular 1st team players, only John Terry came through the system.

World Class: But Chelsea’s top facilities do not necessarily bridge the gap between first team and academy (source:google)

– Allowing clubs to recruit players from further afield comes with its own potential problems. Increased traveling time has a knock on effect on a players education (leaving school early, late getting home from training etc). With the low %’s of homegrown players currently progressing to professional football, player education cannot be risked. Already too many teenagers, after years of making sacrifices for their football, have been left with no club and no sense of direction.

– Will the new rules ultimately effect the long term competitive nature of our English leagues? In Spain, it is accepted that a season in La Liga will involve a two-horse title race. However the English leagues pride themselves on not only having a highly competitive Premier League but also the Football Leagues below it. With the top English clubs having the best young players/being even more superior financially, this competitive nature may decrease somewhat.

First Touch: Grassroots football plays a pivotal role in the development of most young players (source:google)

The overall opinion of the EPPP is one that will be debated for a long time. There is no doubt the plan will have positive results, and in the not-to-distant future, but it will also have its drawbacks.

Finally the plan does not look to improve the situation at grass-roots level which, for many young players, is where the game is learnt for many years. In an ideal world every top player in England would be signed to a top club by the age of 9, but we know this is not the case. Yes, countries such as Spain and Holland have more advanced development systems than England, but they also have better quality coaching at the front of youth football, which is within the ranks of grass roots.

**Comments Welcome – Write Below or Tweet your opinions to @pitchsidetalk! Have your say and get debating!

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5 thoughts on “Elite Player Performance Plan – An Insight.

  1. “Finally the plan does not look to improve the situation at grass-roots level which, for many young players, is where the game is learnt for many years.”

    Um, yes it does. It makes it makes it mandatory for younger players to play on smaller pitches with fewer players, making sure that they get more touches of the ball, and that the most technically gifted ones stand out, and not just the most athletic ones. As for coaching, it removes the limits put on contact time, bringing us more in line with the rest of Europe. Also, you should probably take a look at what is going to be done with St. George’s Park, where a new generation of grass roots (and adults) coaches are going to be trained.

  2. It’s seems bizarre to completely ignore St. George’s Park when talking about the future of grassroots coaching.

    • Hi, thanks for your comment. I agree with your point and yes St. George’s will certainly help improve the grass-roots coaching. The piece was mainly covering the EPPP and the benefits and cons that will come with it. Whereas St. George’s park will help state of grass-roots football, I’m not sure it will do enough – which obviously remains to be seen.
      Factors like the quality of coaching courses – looking at the early FA badges and considering how much they provide a coach. If a coach wants to learn, then they are a great springboard for future qualifications. But the problem is the mentality of many youth coaches – who complete the obligatory FA qualification and are then left to provide kids with their own, and often wrong, ideas. It’s the mentality of youth coaches that needs addressing. In time this will lead to better quality of football being played at all levels of the English game.

  3. Pingback: WHAT NOW FOR THE WIGAN ATHLETIC YOUTH SYSTEM ? | Los Three Amigos: A Wigan Athletic Site

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