English Football Academies Are Changing

How will this affect young players and Smaller clubs

Football Academies in England are currently in a state of flux. Another reorganisation to ensure we produce technically better players following continued international failure.

 However depending on who you listen to either "inside"  the professional game,  within the grass roots game or interested observers (fans normally) opinion on football academies range from the last best hope to the destroyer of local league kids football.  Regardless of this the following is certain

The cost of running an academy is  £2 to £4 million a year. That means each academy has to produce talent worth £20 to £40 million every 10 years to break even.   Whether this is along the lines of a Crewe bringing in 1 to 2 million every other season (plus producing  first team players)  or  a Man City bring 2 or 3 more expensive players through and picking up the odd bit of loose change selling players on to teams lower down the leagues.   Whether the players generate the transfer fee of the transfer fee is saved is irrelevant

Due to the new FFP regulations and rules concerning home grown players top clubs will see the Academies as even more vital in saving money on future transfers.  It could however be argued that some clubs (ie those not likely to be in Europe)  have no real incentive to develop English talent as a whole but only to recoup enough to cover the cost of and therefore justify their academy. 

So what about the players starting out on the journey. With the new Academy grading system being introduced top clubs will now covert and even horde you players to ensure nothing is missed. (I will cover the arguments for and against this at a later date). Often people say the academies are wrong, put too much pressure on children, have them playing too much football etc…. , They say most of these kids will never make it and all academies are doing is setting players up to fail. The argument goes they would be better playing with their local teams and “enjoying” their football. For some reason an assumption is often made that academy registered players do not enjoy their football.  However that said given my 2040 million rule above maybe those detractors do have a point. Most of the kids who start out on the journey will not be professional footballers – fact.

Now look at the other side. Its true the academy registered players at  9, 10 and 11 will probably not be academy players at 16/17 but does it matter if they are enjoying their football and from my experience they do. The academy experience is generally a positive one, children are taught to be physically fit, they are taught to eat sensibly, taught about team work and taught in an competitive environment where football development is more important that winning.   Ultimately those players which do return to grassroots football will be better players for it and should contribute to it.  

The problem for these players is when the do return they find an environment where long ball rules,  chaos amongst parents sometimes reigns and winning is often everything.  Many players when they drop out of academies as young teenagers give up playing the game. More likely its not the academy experience turns them off the game but what they would have to go back to.  – but that’s another blog