How Does the EPPP Category System Work

Jobs4football believe one of the most important aspects of player recruitment is knowing what level you can place a player at and which teams might be interested in signing or inviting that player for trials.

So we have put together a guide for all EPPP Category Football Clubs in the English Football League for 2019 and how the EPPP category system works so you can understand how the current system works.

What is EPPP?

The Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP) was introduced in 2012 with the long-term aim to improve the quality and quantity of homegrown players with the individual player in mind, it was developed by the Premier League, the Football League, the Football Association and various football clubs.

The EPPP has three phases: Foundation (Under-9 to Under-11), Youth Development (U12 to U16) and Professional Development (U17 to U23) and was built on six key principals:

  • Increase the number and quality of Home Grown Players gaining professional contracts in the clubs and playing first-team football at the highest level
  • Create more time for players to play and be coached
  • Improve coaching provision
  • Implement a system of effective measurement and quality assurance
  • Positively influence strategic investment into the Academy System, demonstrating value for money
  • Seek to implement significant gains in every aspect of player development

It was first suggested by the Premier League and was accepted by the 72 Football League clubs on 20th October 2011. In the vote, 46 clubs voted in favour, 22 against, 3 no-shows and 1 abstention.

The new system also created two new levels of category in youth development with Category Three academies that were similar to old Centres of Excellence and Category Four academies that can only register youth players between the ages of 16–18, picking up players released from clubs higher up the pyramid.

As stated above the long-term goal was to improve the development of young English talent and try to improve the amount of quality available to the England National team.

The Football Association followed Belgium who looked at different ways to improve youth development when implementing their plan, talking to several countries as well as clubs such as Ajax and Barcelona.

After they concluded their research they introduced smaller sided games to increase the amount of time a player touched the ball and encouraged dribbling, passing and movement in the lower age groups.

How do Football Academy Categories Work?

Football clubs are awarded category status of one to four, with one being the highest status. Awards are done by an independent audit being assessed on 10 factors including productivity rates, training facilities, coaching, education and welfare provisions.

The EPPP then oversee English Youth Development, ensuring that more money is invested by the FA and Premier League with a tiered amount invested across the football academy categories.

This means that the category one clubs will receive more funding than category two and so on.

Category One Academy List

The following clubs have the elite Category One status under the Premier League’s Elite Players Performance Plan (EPPP).

Arsenal FC Academy
Aston Villa FC Academy
Blackburn Rovers FC Academy
Brighton FC Academy
Chelsea FC Academy
Derby County FC Academy
Everton FC Academy
Fulham FC Academy
Leicester City FC Academy
Liverpool FC Academy
Newcastle United FC Academy
Manchester City FC Academy
Manchester United FC Academy
Middlesbrough FC Academy
Norwich City FC Academy
Reading FC Academy
Southampton FC Academy
Stoke City FC Academy
Sunderland Athletic FC Academy
Swansea City AFC Academy
Tottenham Hotspurs FC Academy
West Bromwich Albion FC Academy
West Ham United Academy
Wolverhampton Wanderers FC Academy

Category Two Football Clubs

The following clubs have the Category Two status under the Elite Players Performance Plan (EPPP).

Barnsley FC Academy
Birmingham City FC Academy
Bolton Wanderers FC Academy
Burnley FC Academy
Bristol City FC Academy
Cardiff City FC Academy
Charlton Athletic Fc Academy
Colchester United FC Academy
Coventry City FC Academy
Crewe Alexandra FC Academy
Hull City FC Academy
Ipswich Town FC Academy
Leeds United FC Academy
Millwall FC Academy
Nottingham Forest FC Academy
Queens Park Rangers FC Academy
Sheffield United FC Academy
Sheffield Wednesday FC Academy
Watford FC
Wigan Athletic FC Academy

Category Three Football Clubs

The following clubs have the Category Three status under the Elite Players Performance Plan (EPPP).

Accrington Stanley FC Academy
AFC Wimbledon FC Academy
Blackpool FC Academy
Bournemouth FC Academy
Bradford City FC Academy
Bristol Rovers FC Academy
Burton Albion FC Academy
Cambridge United FC Academy
Carlisle United FC Academy
Cheltenham Town FC Academy
Doncaster Rovers FC Academy
Exeter City FC Academy
Fleetwood Town FC Academy
Gillingham FC Academy
Grimsby Town FC Academy
Leyton Orient FC Academy
Luton Town FC Academy
MK Dons FC Academy
Northampton Town FC Academy
Oldham Athletic FC Academy
Oxford United FC Academy
Peterborough United FC Academy
Plymouth Argyle FC Academy
Portsmouth FC Academy
Preston North End FC Academy
Rochdale FC Academy
Rotherham United FC Academy
Scunthorpe United FC Academy
Shrewsbury Town FC Academy
Southend United FC Academy
Stevenage FC Academy
Swindon Town FC Academy
Walsall FC Academy

Category Four Football Clubs

The following clubs have the Category Four status under the Elite Players Performance Plan (EPPP).

Brentford FC Academy
Huddersfield Town FC Academy
Tranmere Rovers FC Academy
Wycombe Wanderers FC Academy


Although The EPPP had many benefits it did have its issues and has been greeted with scepticism from some Football League clubs.

Some claim the Premier League said they would withdraw the funding they gave to youth development at the time if the Football League did not accept the new deal.

It has been described as only benefitting the best sides. Under the new rules, Category 1 clubs can go to any other training ground to watch a player and buy them for a relatively low fee, other category clubs can only sign players Under-18 who live in their “catchment area” of 90 minutes from the clubs training facilities.

Under the old system, the level of compensation was decided either by mutual agreement or an independent tribunal with the decision was based on the potential of the player, with the fee usually being an upfront payment then future payments based on first team or international appearances, there was sometimes also a sell-on percentage.

Under the EPPP rules, compensation fees are worked out using a set formula based on the cost of training and the category level of the academy where they have been trained as outlined below.

Years spent at academy
Fixed fee per year
aged 9–11 £3,000
aged 12–16 £12,500 – £40,000 depending on academy category

Further fixed fees are payable on the player making first team appearances in any professional senior competition:

Premier League
League One
League Two
10 £150,000 £25,000 £10,000 £5,000
20 £300,000 £50,000 £20,000 £10,000
30 £450,000 £75,000 £30,000 £15,000
40 £600,000 £100,000 £40,000 £20,000
50 £750,000 £125,000 £50,000 £25,000
60 £900,000 £150,000 £60,000 £30,000
70 £1,000,000 £175,000 £70,000 £35,000
80 £1,100,000 £200,000 £80,000 £40,000
90 £1,200,000 £225,000 £90,000 £45,000
100 £1,300,000 £250,000 £100,000 £50,000

In recent years a number of clubs have started closing their academies, moving to category four status.

Wycombe Wanderers closed their academies at the start of the 2012–13 season, stating that the cost of implementing the EPPP was part of the reason for this.

Brentford closed their academy at the end of the 2015–16 season, citing the EPPP as a reason for the closure and they could spend money better and give players a more realistic chance of making the first team if they concentrated on the higher age group.

Huddersfield Town closed their academy and it was reported that one of the main reasons was that category 1 clubs were taking all the best talent from their ‘catchment area’ stating that Manchester City had more scouts in Huddersfield than they did.

Final Thoughts

It would seem on the face of it that EPPP only benefits the elite clubs and in some ways, it’s hard to argue with that view but if you look at the main objective which was to produce more talent for the England national team you would have to say it is working.

The current England national team is packed full of young promising players like Marcus Rashford, Mason Mount and Trent Alexander-Arnold.

I do however feel that this shouldn’t be done at the expense of smaller clubs and it shouldn’t be so easy (and cheap) for bigger clubs to take the best players from those clubs.

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