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About Youth Development

The EFL Youth Development Department works with Academies to maintain and enhance good practice, particularly in the years between and the build up to the independent assessment.

The department also provides help, guidance and assistance to players and parents and works closely with other organisations, particularly the Premier League and Football Association, to further the youth development system.

Youth Development Academy Parents/Carers Handbook 2022/23: Click here to view the full document.pdf

Direct support to Clubs is provided by a team of Regional Managers whose work is centrally coordinated.


In 2012 the English professional game adopted the processes, principles and criteria of the Elite Player Performance Plan with the aim of creating a world leading Academy system.

The fundamental principles of the EPPP include increasing the number and quality of Home Grown Players, creating more time for players to play and be coached and improving coaching provision. There is now also a substantial focus upon “Player Care”, including Safeguarding and Education, within the Academy system.

A system of measurement and quality assurance has been established whereby Academies are independently assessed with resultant recommendations determining the category status awarded to each Academy.

There are 4 categories of Academy. Category 1 to 3 Academies register players from the U9 age group through to professionals whereas the Category 4 model is a late development model operating from the U17 age group upwards. Category 1 is the highest status of Academy.