The Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP) is a long-term strategy designed to take Premier League Youth Development to the next level.
The EPPP is the result of consultation between the Premier League and its clubs, representatives of the Football League, the Football Association and other key football stakeholders.
It has six fundamental principles:
· Increase the number and quality of Home Grown Players gaining professional contracts in the clubs and playing first-team football at the highest level
· Create more time for players to play and be coached
· Improve coaching provision
· Implement a system of effective measurement and quality assurance
· Positively influence strategic investment into the Academy System, demonstrating value for money
· Seek to implement significant gains in every aspect of player development
It will do this by focusing on four main areas:
Academies will be independently audited and given a Category status of 1 to 4, with 1 being the most elite. Up to 10 different factors will be considered in the grading, including productivity rates; training facilities; and coaching, education and welfare provisions.
The higher a club's Category the more funding will be available to it and the EPPP will see the Premier League and FA invest more central income than ever before in Youth Development programmes across the country.
Director of Youth at the Premier League Ged Roddy led the Working Group that created the EPPP, and he believes Youth Development has never been more important.
"Since the inception of the Premier League there has always been a strong focus on Youth Development, but the focus on youth has probably never been as intense or as urgent as it is right now," said Roddy.
"With the ever-increasing quality of the Barclays Premier League and the exceptional buying power of clubs, it has become self-evident to every young Academy player that if he wants to succeed, not only will he have to be one of the best players in England but also the world.
"This is a massive challenge for any young player and a widespread consultation has taken place across the game to address how a modernised youth system can be sustained which will provide the best platform to support the aspirations of our Home Grown Players to succeed in the biggest of big leagues."
Roddy says the EPPP draws on the collective best practice that already thrives in the youth system in England and learns from other youth systems in football and other elite environments across the world.
Some key areas the EPPP will focus on include:
· Allowing clubs to have more coaching time with their young players
· Helping clubs foster links with local schools in order to help young players get the best out of their football education as well as the academic side
· Allowing clubs that have earned a top category grading to recruit young talent from further afield than is permitted under the current rules
· Working with the Football League to review the current system used for determining compensation
Roddy admits there is not one big idea that will transform youth development, but instead a forensic attention to detail that can help deliver the right results.
"The new system will create greater access to players"
- Ged Roddy
"Many innovations proposed in the new plans will contribute to achieving widespread marginal gains in every aspect of the youth system," he says.
"These marginal gains when knitted together collectively will deliver the significant improvements in the development of Home Grown Players that all clubs want to achieve.
"The new system will create greater access to players so that they can receive more time to train and prepare effectively for a career in the Barclays Premier League. These changes will raise the intensity of the Academy system, leading to improved education and career support programmes being rolled out to ensure every player is provided with holistic support for all of his development.
"When you strip it down to its most fundamental, the EPPP is about creating an environment where a local boy, developed in his local club from eight or nine years of age, can go on to pull on a first-team shirt of the club that he has grown up at.
"This is every boy's dream and, while in reality only a lucky few will achieve it, the EPPP for all its focus on the science of elite development sets out to ensure that this dream can remain a reality for the next generation of young players."