Premier League Greed Hits Academy
Are million pound sales from the Crewe Alexandra academy today a thing of the past?
They're certainly not going to come quite so easily with the Football League today voting in favour of the 'Elite Player Performance Plan' that will see Acadmies and Centre of Excellences across the country re-graded.
Under the new plans, it will cost upwards of £2.5million to employ the staff and maintain facilities in order to become a 'Category One' Academy, something only feasible for the Premier League clubs.
With 'Category Two' much in line with the current Academy system, and hopefully where we slot in, it leaves the rest of the Football League out in the wilderness in Categories Three and Four.
Much of the issue though is in the 'perks' of each Category. The new plans will see Category Three academies unable to sign youngsters until they are 12 years old, three years older than the current age requirement. It would leave a lot of lower league clubs eventually wondering if youth development is worth it - which is where Category Four, the bare minimum of an U-18s side, comes in.
The plans are thinly veiled to improve English football and the national side with youngsters receiving treble the amount of coaching time in Category One academies.
You would however be forgiven for feeling a tad sceptical, considering the plans will also see 'set transfer fees'. For youngsters moving between clubs, the million pound deals of yesteryear would be reduced to thousands, all based on instalments and clauses.
As a general guide, Liverpool paid QPR £600k rising to £5million for youngster Raheem Stirling, who played in the England U-17 team with Max Clayton and Nick Powell in the summer. Under the new rules QPR would have received just £109,000.
It's no surprise then just how desperate the likes of Man Utd, Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal were to push these plans through. The Premier League even threatened to withdraw £5Million of funding if the 72 Football League voted against the plans today.
With the Football League unfortunately running scared, they advised their members to vote for the plans and so 46 voted in favour of the plans and only 22 against.
What impact this will have on Crewe Alexandra FC time will tell.