Elite Plans gone wrong or English football’s delusion

It is with seen with astonishment that many Football League clubs in England have agreed to the Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP) yesterday, which would leave many if not all clubs in League One and Two with less money for their talent if these youngsters are sold on and the whole Academy system is put in serious doubt as the smaller clubs will get significantly less remuneration for their efforts.

Simon Burnton in the Guardian provides an example from Leeds United. Their academy player Luke Garbutt was sold to Everton in 2009 for £600000 but under the new system Leeds would only get £131000; almost only a fifth of the value Leeds received two years ago. The new system would see the Premier League clubs paying £3000 per year for a player aged between 9 and 11. The fee per year from 12 to 16 will range between £12500 and £40000.

Similarly, Liverpool paid £600000 for Raheem Sterling early in 2010 – the player has yet to make his first team debut in the league – however, under the new regulations, Liverpool would have got away with paying only £109000; a mere fifth!

Further, travel restrictions have also been lifted. While under-16s were only allowed an hour and a half’s (under-12s 60 minutes) travelling distance between club and home, this has now been scrapped.

To be fair, Garbutt is currently on loan at Cheltenham and has only played once for them and in hindsight, the fee might appear to be too high as his career seems to have somewhat stalled recently. However, that is not the point. The point is that the clubs in the Premier League are getting richer by the day and they appear not to care, whether the small clubs, which at the end of the day feed the big clubs, survive or not and whether there is a robust and healthy youth system in England or not. Five Year Plan, a Queens Park Rangers fanzine quoted the club’s chairman as saying: “This penalises clubs who try to develop talent.” To which nothing needs to be said.

Of course The FA is fully supportive of the plan. The FA are the last to say anything contrary to the plans of the Premier League as the clubs are running English football and not vice versa. And the chairmen of the Football League must be suffering delusion when they say that this will help England’s footballing future. If they think so, then this displays a sorry state of football in England.

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