'The rich get richer, the poor get poorer': How EPPP dictated Portsmouth sold Academy starlets to Wolves and Newcastle

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The talented duo are to join the Premier League sides this summer

The rich get richer and the poor get poorer - the perfect summary of the Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP).

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The Blues have this summer agreed to sell goalkeeper Xander Grieves to Wolves and midfielder CJ Afumuzor to Newcastle.

Both will fetch transfer fees, although in accordance with EPPP regulations, Category 1 Academies are requested to pay modest set amounts - very much to the detriment of the selling club.

Wolves and Newcastle have swooped to recruit from Pompey’s Academy this summer. Picture: Jason Brown/ProSportsImagesWolves and Newcastle have swooped to recruit from Pompey’s Academy this summer. Picture: Jason Brown/ProSportsImages
Wolves and Newcastle have swooped to recruit from Pompey’s Academy this summer. Picture: Jason Brown/ProSportsImages | Jason Brown/ProSportsImages

As a Category 3 Academy, Pompey have little power to fight off such approaches, particularly involving the lure of Premier League admirers.

Former Blues physio Sillett nowadays serves as the FA’s lead tutor for the certificate in national talent identification and scouting in football, involving annually lecturing on EPPP rules and regulations to more than 1,000 scouts or talent reporters at Category 1 Premier League Academies.

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And he believes Pompey and fellow Category 3 clubs are unfortunately ‘wide open’ to having top young talent plucked.

He told The News: ‘There’s a term for it - the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. That’s the EPPP system for you in a nutshell.

‘You can’t protect what you’ve got because of the compensation rules. Clubs have to pay a minimum price, but if they want them that badly you must agree to a figure, otherwise it goes to compensation.

‘The sum depends on the amount of years the kid has been there as a registered Academy player. It only works out around £80-90,000, although might be more depending on what has been offered and how much they can say they’ve put into that player.

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‘A club can say no, but there are two-year bands from age groups 12-14 and 14-16 - and then you are wide open and up liable for compensation. Almost like a Bosman.

‘You are reliant on loyalty from the families and the players, but players’ heads will also get turned from that interest, so it is absolutely pointless trying to fight that.

‘Most Category 3 Academies aren’t protected, while a Category 1 can’t buy from another Category 1 unless it’s a transfer, so they are hunting in the ocean. The big fish come looking for your little categories and will go and snap them up.

‘That’s why you need to up your category status because the higher your category, the more protected you are, which is ridiculous because it’s not a self-fulfilling prophecy. Category 2 is a little more protected, but not an awful lot.

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‘If you want to invest in your Academy then you’ll be protected. If you don’t then you are wide open.’

Pompey have turned down fees for promising Academy players in the past, including Harvey Rew, who was subsequently released in 2021.

On the flip side, Sillett is convinced the Premier League-driven EPPP is clearly fulfilling the reasons for its introduction.

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And he points at England youth glory in European Championships and World Cup since it was established in 2012, after voted in by 46 of the 72 Football League clubs.

Sillett added: ‘It was built to produce England-class international performers - and you have to say it’s working.

‘Of the 26 players in England’s squad at the European Championships, 22 of them were signed to EPPP Academies before the age of 10.

‘Only Jarrod Bowen wasn’t involved in an Academy, while 2-3 were involved at the age of 12-plus.

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‘We have to improve the standard of the boys and they have subsequently won World Cups and Euro Championships at youth football, so you have to say it’s working on a national level.

‘But it doesn’t work for a Category 2 or Category 3 Academy.’

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