With the coming into force of the Financial Fair Play Regulations, youth development is set to play an increasingly important role in every club’s future business plan.
Since youth football investment is excluded from the Financial Fair Play break-even calculation, an efficient and productive youth academy is likely to become a must-have, and aid the move away from huge transfer fees and inflated player wages. Furthermore, the concept of squad size limits, with an unlimited number of players under the age of 21, is being introduced in more and more leagues throughout Europe, encouraging clubs to invest in youth development.
It goes without saying that youth development reduces financial risks in club football and can only be beneficial to the future well-being of the game. However, at ECA, we have come to realise that we lack a real detailed and coordinated mapping and understanding of the different models of youth development that exist in Europe.
As a result, ECA decided to enlighten the situation and look into this matter in more detail. A dedicated Task Force, mandated to visit and report on the different youth academies and their respective youth development philosophy across Europe, has led to the publication of the first ECA Youth Academy Report: a guide designed and focused on youth development, which aims to provide advice and share experiences on youth academies with the clubs.
The report provides a comparable perspective that underlines the different approaches and philosophies of youth academies across the continent. It does not classify different academies, but rather acknowledges what is happening and shares this with interested clubs in order for them to compare and assess their own academy. A dedicated ECA Task Force has made several field visits to youth academies of different sizes across Europe, and this has formed the basis of a qualitative analysis involving detailed case studies. The report also offers a wider picture via information it has gathered through a survey, responded to by 96 ECA Member Clubs. This survey has revealed many interesting facts and figures on topics including organisational structure, scouting, coaching, education, and infrastructure. Each topic has been summarised to allow for key recommendations on each topic to be made.
To download the full report, click here