Often Partisan

EPPP and Blues

In just four days the new Elite Player Performance Plan for the development of young players comes into force. With the EPPP comes a four tiered grading system to replace the old two tier system of Academies and Centres of Excellence, with the aim to improve homegrown players which will hopefully have the knock-on effect of improving the national set-up.

Unfortunately bearing in mind how soon it is until the EPPP is fully launched there is an absolute dearth of information about how the plan will work and how teams like Blues will be affected by it. Neither the Football League nor the Premier League have updated their pages on it since October 2011 leaving people like me digging around the web to find out what I can to try to work out how it’s going to take shape.

The tiers of Academy status are numbered 1 to 4, with one being the most elite – and thus having the best selection of players and the most compensation for players lost to other clubs. It’s emerged via twitter that Blues are in Category 2 – although Andy Walker, head of PR and Social Media did admit on Twitter that the club have no plans to announce anything formally about the grading that they have been given and that there isn’t a complete understanding of what’s going to happen. Given the complete lack of information available I can’t say I blame them.

From a trawl around the web I have the names of 23 clubs who I believe are awarded Category 2 status – whilst some of these confirmed some haven’t been and I cannot say for certain that this list is infallibly correct – however, the names I have are Barnet, Barnsley, Blues, Brentford, Brighton and Hove Albion, Bristol City, Cardiff City, Charlton Athletic, Colchester United, Coventry City, Crewe Alexandra, Derby County, Huddersfield Town, Ipswich Town, Leeds United, Leicester City, Millwall, Nottingham Forest, QPR, Sheffield United, Sheffield Wednesday, Swansea City and Wigan Athletic.

There will be a national u21 league comprising the teams at the same category status – with there apparently being 23 teams in this category and an aim for 24 games per season (home and away) I can only logically deduce that the list would be split into two and leagues formed from that. Two of the 12 home games must be at the home stadium – ie St Andrews whilst the other 10 can be played elsewhere. Like in the Olympics, there can be 3 overage players in a squad but only two can be on the pitch. Again, as of this moment none of this has been confirmed and I would guess it’s subject to change.

The EPPP is the brain child of the Premier League’s youth development group which includes Terry Westley, who was formerly Academy Director at Blues amongst their number along with Wolves Chief Executive Jez Moxey and Arsenal Chief Executive Ivan Gazidis.

I think it’s going to be interesting how the EPPP affects youth football – particularly as the rates for signing a young player are now to be set instead of going to a tribunal. There have been many calls that the rates have been set too low – particularly from clubs that historically have done well from their academies and I can see their point; there have long been moans that the “big  clubs” have been hoovering up talent and I don’t think it’s right that so many of the country’s best players are concentrated in so few clubs. The fear for me is that if the pool of talent isn’t spread enough then players will stultify due to over competition for places and lesser teams will suffer financially from not being able to make money from their own Academies.

I also think it’s shocking that there is still so little information available; by now I expected the leagues to be finalised and fixtures available along with a complete set of rules like the ones available for the Premier League and Football League. If the authorities haven’t been able to release those yet and the clubs aren’t completely sure what’s going on does that bode well for the system?

As and when more information becomes available I hope to add more to this blog and maybe even be able to cover some of the games – Blues currently have one of their best crops of talent coming through for many a year and I’d like to see more of how they progress.

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16 Responses to “EPPP and Blues”

  • Andy says:

    Isn’t that just typical Blues? The academy appears to be finally delivering quality players, just when other clubs can come and take them off us for virtually nothing. Great.

    The top clubs in the EPL are now doing little more than operating a cartel to maximise their profits, with no interest in increasing the quality of future National Team players, they simply try to collect as many potential ‘stars’ as possible to stop their rivals getting them. English football is a disgrace – best league in the world, i don’t think so.

  • alexjhurley says:

    Really interesting stuff, you would think there’d be much mire fa fanfare about all this, especially on the back of the euros. I wonder if this is why horse-face Southgate jacked it in.

  • Bluenosejohn says:

    Something the Premier League is behind is either

    a) completely fair with the less well off being compensated adequately for their efforts


    b) a chance to get what the big clubs want as cheaply as possible and to maintain their monopoly position financially and stuff everyone else

    Difficult choice eh…..

  • Carl says:

    Having read the above, I’m still baffled to how this is actually progression and has any merit. I think from the tone of the piece and the subsequent comments that we’re cynical on how this is a good thing for the majority of clubs.

  • Bluenosejohn says:

    The likes of Dario Gradi, Barry Fry and Graham Taylor were criticial of the scheme but Alex Ferguson was in favour. Says it all.

  • steve says:

    I feel that last season with the invention of the new europeaan youth cup competion
    Which i believe is being expanded to 36 teams this season with a view to expand it again most premier league clubs will use this as there first choice option to develop and showcase there talent, rather than the new system you talk about here.

  • AR says:

    Am I right, or did the Premier League threaten to withhold money to the other leagues if they didn’t agree to this scheme. Whatever the truth, it will allow the big clubs to gather talent for less than they are paying now and mean that many clubs like Crewe will lose out substantially. The young players should be reminded forcefully that their playing time and consequent development will be severely curtailed by going to a big club.

  • Grizzly says:

    Has there been any more word on Foday Nabay?

  • chris says:

    Only what i read elsewhere so may not be true, but Nabay contract is running out or it has and he won’t re-sign, so big clubs can take him, but compo would still be due though it will be paltry.
    The point missed in the whole thing is that it was supposed to help the national team.
    How is this so, when more prem clubs will be able to fill their reserves with these prospects only to see their talent stifled by reserve footy, when they could be playing in the first team in any division of the football league if they stayed loyal to the clubs that have trained them.
    The prem clubs won’t give a monkey’s for these kids they just want the two or three that will rise to the top and the rest will be cast out to the dole or Hoddle’s academy.
    The other aspect is that now there is little in this for the lower leagues.
    They may as well close down their academies and just look at picking up these kids when they are discarded by the big bullies of the prem, or just pick players from non-league footy.
    If they rely on good prices for these kids that are sold to run their acadamies, then they might have no choice but to slim down.
    I just don’t see how this will help England, Butland is one example of why it should stay as it is.
    Sturridge had a great season two seasons ago with Bolton, but last year was somewhat stifled again back at Chelsea, just didn’t get the number of games he would have had elsewhere.
    How is this going to force the prem to play English strikers for example, it isn’t so we still have no talent shining through.

  • Letsby Avenue says:

    Gareth Southgate resigned last week – from all positions and responsibilities at the FA.

    I wonder if he lost the stamps for posting out the rules :-)

  • Bluenosejohn says:

    Bazza was quoted last October

    Peterborough director Barry Fry reckons many Football League clubs could eventually close their youth academies.
    He said: “What frightens me is that a lot of clubs will pull out of having a youth system altogether.
    “Lower league clubs will look at how much it costs to run their academy or school of excellence and think that, if the Premier League can nick their best players for a low price, what is the point of investing in it?”
    Fry estimates the sale of home-grown players such as Luke Steele to Manchester United in 2002, plus Matthew Etherington and Simon Davies – both to Tottenham in 2000 – generated Peterborough in the region of £6m.
    But he added: “We would not get anything like that under the new system.
    “The Premier League wants everything and they want it for nothing.”

  • Bluenosejohn says:

    For anyone still not worried here’s Graham Taylor who was seen football from inside and outside the top division on it


  • Paulo says:

    well, sounds to me like the premier league had got it’s fingers in this one as well ..hopefully it wont mean the end of potentially rising stars having the chance to stay local.

    oh, and I do like ‘stultify’ …my challenge is to use that one this week at work!

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