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Thursday 30 August 2012

'Those in Youth Development should feel privileged'

Premier League players and executives explain how EPPP will have positive impact on development

Scudamore, right, Welbeck, centre, and Anichebe at the season launch

Watch Danny Welbeck, Victor Anichebe, Ged Roddy and Richard Scudamore speak about the Youth Development System

The new Elite Player Performance Plan is the most comprehensive review of youth development in over a decade and is being introduced this summer.

The programme is designed to produce more and better quality home-grown players and to be the "world's best" in youth development.

The process includes the independent audit of all 92 Premier League and Football League club academies while there is also a brand new age-specific Games Programme, including the formation of the Barclays U21 Premier League, which aims to bridge the gap between Academy and first-team football.

We spoke to leading figures in the Barclays Premier League to discover why the EPPP and the Under-21 League is so important to the future of English football.


This can only help because the gap is huge. The pressures of playing in the first team are hard. There’s not much pressure playing for the reserves.

But if you have prepared well for it, it will make it a lot easier. Hopefully this will bring through a lot more young players.

"The pressures of playing in the first team are hard"
Victor Anichebe

With the Under-21 League, having matches in stadiums will get the younger players used to playing in those big venues, it will get them used to preparing a day before the game and stuff like that. It’s only going to help them.

It’s great that the Premier League is really trying to help youngsters coming through. Everton are good club that have brought through a lot of good young players so hopefully the rest of teams can emulate this.

It’s always nice for young players to see other youngsters coming through because we know how hard it is to make it.

We want to increase the numbers of people making the step up and create a situation where young players are well prepared for when the opportunity comes, because sometimes you only get one chance.


The game thrives on local talent. The fans are engaged when the local boy steps out on the grass and plays for his local team and that’s part of the culture of football in this country.

This is about the future of our game. It’s the most important thing that anyone can ever hope to be involved in. Those that work in Youth Development are in very privileged positions.

There is also a big responsibility that you are passing the baton on for the next generation so you have got to make sure that the infrastructure, the conditions, the environment, are absolutely the best in the world and that’s what the EPPP is all about.

The plan will evolve. There will be things that we don’t get right but we are in a place where we can tweak it if we need to.

A lot of what we have been proposing is common sense really. It’s making sure that we do all of the little things that need to be done properly, we do them well, and, by we, I mean all of us collectively, the clubs, the League, the coaches and the players.

There is a huge amount of work to do and it’s going to take time. I am desperate to see this thing succeed and so is everybody who has thrown their weight behind it.

"The game is moving on all the time so the youth system has to move with it"
Ged Roddy

We won’t ever have to do what we have just done ever again. The system that we have now built re-audits all of the clubs every three years so the system won’t drift. It will be able to refresh itself and that has got to be great news.

I hope that the system that we now have is set fair for the future and I hope that those that come in after us will inherit a system that enables them to evolve it effectively. The game is moving on all the time so the youth system has to move with it.


It’s great to get good coaching right throughout your career. I have had that at Manchester United, I have been at the Academy since I was eight so I know what the benefits are.

It’s really good that there is now going to be an Under-21 League and that the teams will be playing all across the country.

Knowing what it is like to travel, what to do, how to relax, what to eat, having the right foods, is going to be beneficial for the youngsters. It’s just good preparation for when you finally make that step up into the first team.


The very exciting Under-21 League will play all through the weekend and is meant to be a league where young players have to get themselves ready to make that transition from local football into what is global football. You have to be a global talent to make it in a Premier League first team.

The fixtures are organised around making it as near to a proper Premier League experience as you can. Some of games will be played in the main stadia, which has not been the case before.

The whole thing has been set up to try to make this transition a real transition and it’s going to be a hugely exciting development.

Find out more about the Elite Player Performance Plan

Find out more about the new Barclays U21 Premier League

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Key Points

  • Elite Player Performance Plan is the most comprehensive review of youth development in over a decade
  • Victor Anichebe praises Premier League for helping youngsters coming through
  • Danny Welbeck says learning about travelling far to matches will aid development