The national Academy restructuring (EPPP) is going on and the auditing of each club's academy will be completed by the end of next month. Clubs considered category one (based on accommodation, facilities, instructional structure, etc.) will be able to recruit youth from age 12 from anywhere in the country, as opposed to from within a 90-mile radius of their home ground. Newcastle (along with other seaside or port cities) lose a large chunk of that radius to, say, the North Sea... so it is going to be critical to gain category one status, especially in light of Mike Ashley's sustainable model. With a loss being effectively declared on the young reserves setup this season, there is a gap to be made up presently... even with the more highly regarded U18 academy setup. The club are feeling a bit of pressure on this, as another gap in talent following the current crop of U18s would seriously dent the home-grown sustainable goal of where the club is going.
There has been a lot of philosophical debate had about the merits and drawbacks to the EPPP system... this is merely meant to be a touchstone for where we are at currently compared to the incoming structure. Some links:
The next stage in the Academy’s development is to be awarded Category One status, and the club’s getting audited next month. Part of a radical overhaul of Academy football, the new system has its critics, not least from clubs outside the top flight, but Joyce believes the status will help United to recruit players from across the country. "To achieve achieve category one status would mean that us, as a football club, will be involved only with other category one clubs," said Joyce. "If, for example, Arsenal, Tottenham, Chelsea, Liverpool, Everton and Aston Villa achieved that status, our games programme would revolve around playing those teams.
There is a great degree of "rich get richer" aspect to the EPPP program. The Category One clubs are going to have the most advantage in player recruitment in this system, so it is crictical that Newcastle get the Category One status. If we fancy ourselves as direct long-term competition to the Sky6 +, we cannot fall flat on this.
Pardew has kept a watchful eye on the Academy since taking charge at the club, and was at St James’s Park to see Streete captain Newcastle to victory in their fifth-round FA Youth Cup tie against Queens Park Rangers earlier this month. And Steven Taylor – who also came up through the ranks – has been helping Streete adjust to the demands of first-team sessions, along with captain Fabricio Coloccini. "I trained with the first team quite a bit recently, and that can only improve me," added Streete. "I just listen to what the likes of Steven Taylor and Coloccini have to say to me. I take it on board, and hopefully learn from them.
The academy has had some hits, such as Streete, Taylor and Ameobi... but also must be accountable for this "Lost Generation" currently being released from the reserves.
The Journal understands United are prepared to spend up to £2.8m a year on the Academy – a huge rise on the £1.8million spent. March is a crucial month for those attempts, with Premier League auditors set to decide whether they will be granted ‘Category One’ Academy status under the new Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP) from the game’s governing body. A United insider described attaining that status as "imperative" for Ashley’s future vision – with a nightmare scenario of their top-flight rivals stealing the North East’s best talent if they miss out on ‘Category One.’ The EPPP will scrap the current rule which means top-flight clubs can only recruit players under the age of 16 who live no more than 60 minutes’ travelling time from their city. That has been a hindrance for Newcastle, for whom that catchment area includes the North Sea while rivals in London, Manchester and Birmingham have a huge urban sprawl to trawl.
I had clipped this being impressed with the addition of the £1m to the yearly budget for the Academy... you know, a real money where your mouth is kind of thing. It turns out, however, that the qualifications of a Category One Academy require it:
* The top level category will require clubs to have an approximate budget of £2.325m.
* Have a full time staff of at least 18.
* Provide at least 5 hours contact time with players each week.
* The current 90 minute travel rule will not apply.
The additional £1m will bring us to an annual budget of £2.8m. This is really great, right? Maybe not so much. It means that currently we are (and have been) operating at £1.8m, which is short of the £2.325m requirement for Category One. It certainly smacks of overcompensation to impress. Not knowing what exactly the auditors are looking for, we have to hope with all we've got that this late addition to the budget is enough to qualify us for the Category One level... or else it could be a tough road to hoe to implement the Mike Ashley Sustainable Model Of Greatness.