Welcome to the Academy System

Being part of an Academy is a great achievement, and something that every young person and their parents and carers can be proud of. The life-enriching experiences that your child will be offered will help them to develop as a person, as well as a player. The Academy system offers a range of opportunities and experiences tailored to age groups and individuals to support their continued development.

Your Childs Opportunity

It is very important to remember that every Academy Player will, at some point, stop playing football in the Professional Club environment. We hope that when that time comes, that they have had a memorable and largely positive journey. For some, they will go on to play professional football, but for others they won’t. Regardless of where football takes them, they will have some great experiences ahead and probably some tough ones too, for example time out through injury, not playing as much or being released from an Academy. 

It is important that, from the start of a young person’s Academy journey, every effort is made to ensure that they don’t feel defined by football or their performance, and they are able to maintain interests outside of football. In other words, they have a broader identity. Tough times will very likely still be tough, but a young person with a broader identity will be able to cope better with these experiences, and they are also likely to perform better on the pitch too.

Some of the ways you can support their personal development is to maintain a healthy balance between the demands of life outside of football, including their education, to have other social and sporting interests away from football, as well as participate in the many opportunities that will come up for them off the pitch along their Academy journey. 

So, wherever their journey ends, we hope that your child enjoys it.

What is the Academy system?

Each Academy is independently audited every year and placed in a category from one to four. The Premier League works closely with its Clubs in between these audits to make sure that high standards are maintained and improved where they can be. The different categories of Academies reflect the type of programme provided. The rules that apply to Academies are called the Youth Development Rules.

You can find more detailed information about some of the topics covered in this handbook by reading the rules.

The environment at an Academy will be different depending on their category, but all categories of Academy will have a track record of producing successful professional players. 

Our Strategy

The Premier League operates the Academy system on behalf of its Clubs, and also works closely with; The English Football League (EFL), The Football Association (FA) and the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA).The Academy System is driven by a strategy called the Elite Player Performance Plan, or EPPP. The EPPP was launched in 2012 as a long-term plan to ensure the Premier League and Clubs throughout the football pyramid develop more and better Home Grown players and through this, support young people who are aspiring footballers to maximise their potential, on and off the pitch. Here’s a short summary on what the EPPP sets out to achieve:

What we're creating, what we're doing

Unrivalled development environments: Recognised for producing more and better Home Grown players. Respected for setting young people up for life. Always raising the bar.

Supporting young people who are aspiring footballers to maximise their potential, on and off the pitch: They develop positive attitudes for life, and learn what it takes to win. Breathtaking on the pitch. Thriving everywhere else

How we're doing it, what we care about

Elite player development & personal growth: We help young people step out of their comfort zones to build unique strengths on the pitch. Then we support them as they go even further, so they can win at the highest level. We make sure young people get a good education and build well-rounded life skills. They are empowered to reach their full potential, so they can succeed — whatever that means for them.

More and better players: We embrace potential and empower aspiring footballers to achieve on-pitch excellence. We create the right opportunities, and pathways to First Team football.

A life-enriching experience: We put the young person’s interests first. We support their holistic development, equipping them to balance football with their personal lives. So that whatever their future holds, they’re better off for having been an Academy player.

The health of our game: We want everyone to be proud of our Academies and the environments we create. We work together to stimulate investment in youth development – it is essential to improving football for the future.

The Building Blocks

The Building Blocks are the delivery areas and enablers for the success of the Academy system. They represent how the Academy system structures it programmes and resources under the EPPP and how the League reports on progress.

Talent ID

Providing access to optimal development environments for young people with potential. Committing to ensure everyone has the same opportunity, regardless of their background.

- Scouting
- Recruitment
- Registrations
- Diversity of the talent pool

Player Pathway

Delivering bespoke player programmes shaped by multidisciplinary expertise for each stage of development. Enabling aspiring footballers to reach their potential by providing a variety of experiences and challenges.

- Coaching
- Performance support
- Games programme
- Transition to senior football

Duty of Care

Creating safe, inclusive and trusted environments that promote wellbeing and support personal growth through outstanding education and holistic experiences. Preparing children and young adults for life, by understanding their needs and collaborating with their families and support networks.

- Education & player care
- Safeguarding
- Equality & inclusion
- Health & medical

There are three pillars which underpin and unite our safeguarding, player care, and education provision. They are Prepare, Empower and Protect. 

  Prepare Empower Protect
Safeguarding Working together to create supportive environments where Academy Players are safe, valued and respected Everyone to protect themselves and others Academy Player safety and welfare
Player Care Academy Players for the day-to-day challenges they may face, both inside and outside of football Academy Players to make informed decisions about their wellbeing and future Academy Player wellbeing – mental, emotional, and physical
Education Academy Players for a career within and beyond football Academy Players to become independent decision-makers Academy Player academic potential and aspirations during their football careers

Workforce Development

Creating a culture of individualised learning and continuing professional development for all of our people. Providing growth opportunities that create a level of expertise and practice that’s unmatched in sport.

- Professional qualifications & development
- Individualised learning
- Equality, diversity & inclusion
- Knowledge sharing & mentoring

Governance & Quality Assurance

Continually raising standards and protecting the integrity of our system. Incentivising investment and driving sustainability in youth development to ensure everyone wins.

- Stakeholder engagement
- Rules & regulation
- Investment & infrastructure
- Audit & categorisation

Innovation & Insights

Leveraging data, research and technology to inform elite player development and personal growth. Continually evaluating and innovating to improve evidence-based practices.

- Technologies & systems
- Data analysis
- Research
- Evaluation & impact

The Academy Experience

Joining an Academy, Player Pathway, Duty of Care & Leaving the Academy system.

Crystal Palace Academy

Rights, Rules and Responsibilities

Academy, Parents & Carers & Clubs Codes of Conduct. Anti-Discrimination, End of Season procedure, Approaches and moving Academy.

Saints Academy helping coaches on development journey

Support and Independent Advice

Age Specific Support, Independent Advice, Premier League Support Resource, PFA Safety Net & PFA Youth Advisory Service

Premier League U16 National Tournament No Room For Racism branding