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How to measure the performance of football clubs’ youth development academies

Friday, 09 October 2015 By Richard Battle

In this series of feature blogs, the Sports Business Group at Deloitte undertakes a financial analysis of some of the key activities engaged in by football clubs, both in the UK and worldwide. This first piece looks at how to measure the performance of football clubs’ youth development academies.


The Elite Player Performance Plan

A strong youth system helps a club to achieve its desired categorisation under the Premier League’s Elite Player Performance Plan (“EPPP”) and to attract talent and develop Home Grown Players for the benefit of the first team. It can also provide a financial return, something that is always welcome at a football club.

Since the Premier League introduced EPPP in 2012, clubs across the four English divisions have invested significant amounts in youth development. We estimate that Premier League clubs spend on average c.£5m each year on the academy, making it the second largest cost centre for most clubs, behind senior player costs. The multi-disciplinary approach which EPPP encourages has driven clubs to implement best practice across all areas of the academy.

However, measuring the success of these inputs on the progression of players already in the academy, and the ability to recruit the right players to supplement the squads, remains a challenge. We believe that there is scope to supplement the progress brought about by EPPP with an additional framework, which can help to form the basis of discussion on the overall and on-going performance of the academy within the academy management team and with senior management from the wider club beyond the training ground.


Measuring sporting performance

Each academy will have a ‘productivity’ aim, for example to produce players who have a career in professional football. Whilst this is rightly the ultimate measure of an academy’s success, it is inherently backward-looking. If players of the right standard do not emerge at around the age of 18, by then it is too late to act. The core of that group of players is likely to have been at the academy for many years.

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Written by

Richard Battle

Richard Battle

Richard Battle is a Senior Manager and joined the Sports Business Group in 2010. A large proportion of his work is in football, working on a range of projects for clients who include investors, clubs and governing bodies. Richard leads Deloitte’s work with academies and is a UEFA licensed coach. 

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