By Wayne Veysey | Chief Correspondent
Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham have been awarded the top grade in the Premier League’s opening round of assessment for its new youth development system, Goal.comcan reveal.
The three big-hitters were among the clubs who applied for the leading Category One status in the second tranche of audits that have recently been completed.
But Reading have become the fourth of the 22 clubs in total that were monitored, 17 of whom were from last season’s top division and five from the Championship, to suffer the blow of failing to achieve their Category One aim.
Goal.com revealed last August that Newcastle United, Blackburn Rovers and Crystal Palace were the three of the 12 clubs inspected in the second half of last season to have missed out on Category One status.
This will have considerable financial consequences and inhibits the academies’ capacity to produce future first-team players to follow in the footsteps of star graduates like Andy Carroll, Steven Taylor, Phil Jones, Wilfried Zaha, Victor Moses and Nathaniel Clyne.
The other 10 clubs were inspected by the league’s independent standards organisation in the opening half of this season and the Professional Game Board has now ratified the recommendations of the audit team.
Goal.com understands that Arsenal, Liverpool, Tottenham, Everton, Aston Villa, West Brom, Norwich City, Bolton Wanderers and Sunderland have joined Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Fulham, Southampton, West Ham, Stoke City, Middlesbrough and Wolves in achieving the top Academy grade.
In a major funding blow, the four clubs who missed out have been categorised as Category Two. Watford had been among the initial 23 Category One applicants but announced last August that they had withdrawn their application to downsize their academy and apply for Category Three status.
Under the funding mechanism for the new system – called the Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP) – each Category One club is projected to receive a minimum £775,000-a-year in Premier League funding from the youth development pot. Category Two clubs will receive a minimum £480,000, Category Three clubs £210,000 and Category Four clubs £100,000.
Each club is graded according to criteria such as facilities, productivity rates, coaching staff and funding, with a fixed tariff paid for players under 18 according to how much time has been invested in them.
The Premier League insist that the initial grade is only a ‘provisional categorisation’ and that clubs will be re-assessed on an ‘ongoing basis’ to ensure that meet the requirements of EPPP.
Nevertheless, the clubs have already started receiving funds from the League and, if they are re-categorised, the funding will not be back-dated.
A number of Premier League clubs have taken the step of announcing their Category One status but others, including Arsenal, Liverpool, Tottenham, Manchester United and Chelsea have not done so.