Andy Awford, Academy manager at Portsmouth, has expressed his views on next season’s Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP) and says that the system is “unfair”
It is no secret that Portsmouth have been suffering financial difficulties recently and this will reflect on their grading. They were hoping to be classified as a category B club under the new system but in reality they are looking at being in the C category.
Awford explained how the EPPP will work and his thoughts on the system on Portsmouth’s club website with the following statement.
“There are currently two tiers in youth football – academies and centres of excellence. A few years ago we managed to gain academy status and play in the Premier Academy League against sides like Manchester United, Tottenham and Arsenal.
From next season centres of excellence will be scrapped. Instead, every team will have an academy that is graded on a scale from one to four – with one being the highest. At the start of the season we had ambitions of being a Category Two club, but unfortunately our current financial problems mean those ambitions are unlikely to be realised.
Instead we’re likely to sit in Category Three for at least a year, although hopefully a new owner will come in, understand the importance of youth and allow us to progress.
We have to fill in a self-assessment form – like every side up and down the country – and clubs will be placed into their categories based on that. The FA will then have to come and inspect every academy to make sure that the grading is correct.
We can predict that the likes of Manchester United, Arsenal, Tottenham and Liverpool will be Category One sides and that we will be Category Three – but we don’t actually know yet. There’s a whole list of criteria we have to go through with productivity, staffing levels, facilities, education programmes and club philosophy all taken into account.
We’re only guessing at this stage, but you would think we would be playing different clubs at Category Three level. However, our boys will be coached the same and will continue to receive a high level of care and attention – so whatever category we’re in won’t make too much of a difference from my point of view.
The Premier League are the driving force behind the new Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP). It is all about the fees clubs currently have to pay for schoolboys/young footballers.
If Manchester United or any other side wanted one of our signed players we would want a fee – just as we would if they wanted a first-team player. Under the current system, if we can’t agree on an amount it goes to a tribunal, who normally come down on the side of the selling club, meaning we would be rewarded for developing the player.
The big boys aren’t happy with that, however.
Under the new plans, if I was to sell a 16-year-old who’s been with us for nine years we would get just £70,000, with possibly some add-ons down the line. A goalkeeper has gone from Shrewsbury to Manchester City this year for seven figures, so it’s a big difference. The big clubs dangled a carrot to The Football League and said that if these plans were voted through, they would give Football League clubs a bit more basic funding.
The system as it stands means you can only sign a boy who lives within an hour-and-a-half of your club. But that is set to be scrapped and Category One clubs will be able to scout nationally.
I don’t know any other business where you can make everything brilliant and then invite your competitor in to see what you’ve done and sell to them on the cheap. It seems a little bit unfair to me.
It will be more difficult, but we’ll try to keep hold of our players. I have to make sure the environment is right here and that the boys get the best coaching and care that we can offer.
I think there is currently a clear path to the first team – as the likes of Adam Webster, Ashley Harris and others have shown. That’s a selling point for us. We have to continue working hard to keep the boys and their parents happy and show that Portsmouth Football Club has a lot to offer.”