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EPPP and Blues
On Tuesday Birmingham City confirmed that the club have passed the second stage of the Academy audit and have been awarded Category Two status under the Elite Player Performance Plan. It comes as a culmination of 18 months hard work from the club and confirms that the Academy is continuing to grow and improve.
There’s been a lot put about the EPPP in recent months on various news sites – not a lot of it good, it has to be said – and with this in mind I thought I would have a deeper look into what this rating means for Birmingham City.
What does the rating mean?
The rating is a reflection of how much investment has been put into the academy, and how much investment is made into the futures of young players. As a category 2 academy, Birmingham City have to commit a large amount of money annually to the set-up (given as just under £1million here) to qualify. Blues have had to expand the coaching setup within the academy to meet with benchmarks, with emphasis not just on football but things like sports science, nutrition and and non-football education. Academy trainees are also now are assessed on a 6-12 week timescale instead of semi-annually.
How long until Blues are audited again?
The EPPP audit is set up so that audits will be every two years. Thus Blues will be audited for a second time in 2014/15.
Do these new rules mean that youngsters can be easily poached?
One of the main controversies is the way that transfer fees for young players are calculated. Previously fees were decided by tribunal but the new EPPP system implements a set fee structure, with fees dependent on how long a player has been with an academy, the category of academy, and with add-ons for how many games at various levels a player plays.
However, some of the scaremongering I’ve seen in the press is incorrect. When the rules were first announced there were stories implying that players like Nathan Redmond and Jack Butland would have been able to have been poached from Blues by bigger clubs for a pittance but it’s not the case. Having spoken to Blues, I can confirm that:
The fixed compensation rates are for players aged U9-U16 who have not signed to become a scholar at the Club. Once a player signs to be a scholar they become a normal transfer negotiable between clubs. A player once 14yrs of age can commit to a scholarship at a Club and then comes out of the formula.
In other words, any player who is currently on a scholarship with the club – an example would be Reece Hales, who is a first year scholar – would have to have a transfer fee negotiatied in the same way as any of the senior squad. Likewise, an even younger player – and the example I’d use here would be Foday Nabay, who has now committed to a scholarship – is also out of the equation.
Big teams are always going to try to pick up players from smaller clubs – it’s the way economics works after all – but as Kristjaan Speakman, the head of the Academy states it’s down to Blues not to offer monetary incentives but to convince players that maybe their future is better served here.
The upshot of all this is for the next 18 months or so Blues have an academy that will receive a decent amount of funding both from the authorities and Blues and that there is more chance than ever that they will be able to develop players for the first team in the way that they have this season.