Elite Player Performance Plan will harm Southampton and youth development as a whole

With new rules coming into place next season, there will be little incentive to follow the lead of teams like Southampton, who have developed a string of high profile players through their academy.

You only have to look at some of the names that have come out of Southampton's youth set up in the past few years to realise what a success it is. Gareth Bale, Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and, if you want to go back a little further, Alan Shearer and Matt Le Tissier.

Whilst most of their best prospects have moved on from Southampton at a relatively young age, the fees they have received for these players have aided the club's recent success in promotion back to the Premier League, and allowed them to reinvest in their youth facilities to maintain its high standards. Just last week Adam Lallana became the latest product of their system to earn an England International call up.

However with the Elite Player Performance Plan likely to come into force from the beginning of next season Southampton's survival in the premier league this year becomes even more vital.

The new youth system set up for the football league has faced widespread criticism from lower league clubs. They have claimed that by fixing compensation amounts at relatively low levels, and removing the half hour 'catchment area' around football clubs, it makes it easier for Premiership teams to poach their best youngsters. Whilst Southampton have had to sell their youth stars before, they had far more control over them and were able to demands fees like the 12 million (possibly rising to 15 million) they received for a 17 year old Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Southampton are a side who have set up their football club the right way, with an excellent stadium and youth set up that could make them a stable club in the Premiership for years to come.

The EPPP discourages clubs from following Southampton's model; Hereford United, Wycombe Wanderers and Yeovil Town have already shut down their youth systems, citing EPPP as one reason why. It’s difficult to see why these changes were needed, currently the best players are already finding their way into the Premiership, and the clubs they are bought from are getting enough money to reinvest in their team and facilities.  

In the future, with the new EPPP rules in place, it's unlikely we'll see a team able to rise through the divisions on the back of successful youth players and the money raised by selling some of those youth team graduates. If there isn't this incentive to clubs running youth teams, if their best prospects are going to be snapped up for minimal fees, then youth systems will decline and fold, creating exactly the opposite of the purported effect of the EPPP.

image: © mischatuffield

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