Wednesday 15 February 2012
Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson says the introduction of the Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP) will enable the club to become more successful in developing domestic talent.
The EPPP - the result of consultation between the Premier League and its clubs, representatives of the Football League, Football Association and other key football stakeholders - is a long-term strategy designed to create a youth development system in the professional game that will raise standards at every level.
Two years in the making, the EPPP is set to begin in time for the 2012-13 season, with the key idea to produce more and better home grown players and to be the "world's best" in youth development.
"I'm very optimistic we'll be able to get the production line going again"
- Sir Alex Ferguson
As part of the EPPP, clubs who satifsy the educational and training standards required will once again be able to sign players under the age of 16 who live more than 90 minutes away.
Ferguson, who watched the likes of Ryan Giggs, David Beckham, Paul Scholes, Gary Neville and Phil Neville come through the Old Trafford ranks in the early 1990s, believes this will benefit those clubs who are committed to youth development.
"A few years ago the requirement was brought in that you could only sign young players that lived within an hour-and-a-half radius of the club's headquarters," the Scot told the official website of FIFA, world football's governing body.
"It wasn't like that before, which was how we were able to sign such fantastic young lads.
"But since it became physically impossible to find six or seven players a year so close by, we decided to change the priorities of our scouting system. As a result, we started to bring in very talented players from abroad and we've had success that way.
"But in terms of developing players from within the club, it's been a long time since we produced a player of David Beckham's calibre.
"The legislation changed again a short while back and it'll be like it was 15 years ago once more, so I'm very optimistic we'll be able to get the production line we had in the past going again."
Having been voted in by Football League clubs in October and the Premier League clubs adopting the neccessary rules changes earlier this month, the next stage for the EPPP is an independent standards organisation classification of clubs' academies in March, with the EPPP set to begin in July.