EFL Futures to help clubs produce young English playersThe EFL has now formally launched EFL Futures as attendees at an event in London were given a full briefing on the new £2.25m financial incentive scheme that rewards EFL clubs who introduce young English players into their starting line-ups.
A sum of £750,000 per season is being made available for the next three years to reward those clubs who provide starting opportunities in EFL fixtures for home grown players under the age of 21 and who are eligible to play for England (or Wales for Cardiff and Newport).
The campaign is central to the EFL’s ambition to create opportunities for young players and represents a collective commitment between clubs, representative bodies and commercial partners to improve opportunities for home grown players.
Currently 8% of appearances across the EFL have so far been made by English players under the age of 21 this season. Those appearances are being made by 185 players in the EFL; from a pool of 2,300 players currently registered across the three divisions.
Current projections from the 2016/17 season predict that clubs in Leagues One and Two will benefit most from EFL Futures, with £600,000 to be shared between the 48 clubs. The remaining £150,000 would go to the 24 clubs in the Championship.
EFL Futures will become a visible and recognisable initiative across football to increase the number of appearances being made as the EFL will incorporate marketing and commercial expertise to raise awareness.
The EFL will work closely with partners and broadcasters to develop ways that EFL Futures can become a regular feature of live match day coverage and a common mechanism for charting the progress of young English talent.
The 72 clubs within the EFL already play a big part in player development, with 14 of the Euro 2016 England squad at last summer’s tournament in France having once been registered at EFL academies. However, just 8% of appearances made so far this season throughout the EFL have been made by English players under the age of 21.
Shaun Harvey, EFL Chief Executive, said: “The EFL has a very strong and proud tradition of supporting the development of young English talent. However, we want to ensure that the EFL continues to have a positive impact on a future generation of English players and I strongly believe that EFL Futures can deliver much-needed long-term change.
“We believe the successful introduction of young English players will not only benefit the EFL as a competition and its 72 clubs, but also the wider game as a whole and we are determined to do what we can to help the nation fulfil its footballing potential. A high performing England national team is good for the game in this country and we are therefore committed to doing everything we can to help the national team develop.
“The EFL is once again leading the way in shaping this collective ambition in football, but this is just the beginning. We will now work tirelessly to secure further commercial support and work closely with clubs to maximise the options available.”
EFL board member John Nixon, League Two’s representative, said: “From the EFL’s point of view they want to see more home grown players breaking through and they want to do as much as they possibly can to make that happen.
“As we have seen, we have tried a number of initiatives and we will continue to find ways of promoting young talent. I do think we also need to keep trying to find ways to make sure that the young players on our doorstep are getting every opportunity to make their way into the professional game.”
United’s Chief Executive Nigel Clibbens said: “The scheme will provide new money which will flow into clubs, ring fenced to support the development of home grown players. That is another step forward and should be welcomed.
“We’ve seen very recently here at Brunton Park that if young players like Jordan Holt and Cameron Salkeld are performing well enough, our manager will give them an opportunity.
"I don’t think any manager would ever pick a player based purely on a financial incentive, but this is a move in the right direction in encouraging clubs to find, nurture and develop young players, knowing that there is a reward which recognises that approach.”