With the new season about to come to an end, this summer could be a very stressful time for most football academy managers as they prepare for the forthcoming EPPP audits that will determine which category there club will be in next season.
The audits will be carried out by company called Double Pass who have been busy recruiting independent auditors to carry out the task. All football academies and centres of excellence are in the process of carrying out self-assessments that will be audited under the guise of a separate business unit called Foot PASS England, which is part of Double Pass. Yes, I know it sounds complicated! Interestingly, the audits will not be carried out by the Football League!
Foot PASS England is the independent standards organisation directly appointed by the Premier League, Football League, and the FA to carry out all the audits in relation to the forthcoming EPPP changes.
As far as we know, all Premier League clubs will be seeking Category One status with possibly seven Championship clubs also going for the top Category if they meet the stringent audit requirements. The rest of the Championship clubs will be trying to achieve Category Two status. Below the Championship, it is hard to envisage any of the league clubs setting their sights any higher than Category Three status!
Most clubs should by now have completed their own self assessments in preparation for audits within the next 12 months or so. As previously stated, audits will be carried out by an independent body, which usually means that no room for error or interpretation of the EPPP rules!
EPPP – how much do we know about the new rules?
Journalists, concerned parents, supporters, and even the clubs themselves are scratching around for details about the new EPPP regulations. At present, the full details appear to be shrouded in secrecy!
Top sports law firm, Full Contact Law have recently published an article on their website detailing a few of the rules surrounding the EPPP. Here’s a summary of their report.
EPPP audit timeline
All clubs should have now submitted their completed ‘audit tool’ confirming which Category they should be awarded.
It looks like Category One clubs will be audited between now and October 2012, with Category Two clubs receiving their audits between October 2012 and February 2013.
What will happen if a club fails the audit process?
All clubs must make sure that they are fully compliant with all aspects of the requirements for each Category. Failure will mean substantial loss of revenue! A Category One club will lose nearly £300,000 in funding if they are downgraded to Category Two status. Similarly, Category Two clubs will lose around £270,000 is they end up in Category Three! Both are significant amounts of money that and any loss of funding could seriously damage a clubs ability to run their Academy!
So what changes will actually take place?
Basically, at first glance it seems that the new EPPP rules will bring about an awful lot of beaurocracy and accountability for most clubs.
The 90 minute rule will be abolished for Category One clubs, which means that they will be free to sign a player from anywhere in the UK or even overseas. Surely this ruling alone could have a major impact on the lower league clubs as the Category One clubs ramp up their scouting activity with a view to snaring all the top talent across all age groups.
The days are numbered when an Academy focussed purely on football coaching, as opposed to educational welfare, sports science and medicine, which will all be areas of focus in the future.
Clubs will also have to complete a 6 and 12 weekly review for every player in every age group, which is in stark contrast to the twice yearly assessments that have previously been the norm!
Have any clubs passed the audit yet?
The audit process is about to commence, however dummy audits have been recently carried out on a Category One and Category Two club. As far as we are aware, both clubs failed their audits and would have been dropped down to the respective Category below! This could be an indication that passing the audits may be tougher than most academy managers think!
A wake up call for clubs?
If your club has visions of grandeur and thinks that they may be above the new EPPP audits, they could be in for a surprise. Clubs that have great facilities, provide excellent coaching, and have a proven record of producing talent may still fail the audits on a technicality. According to Full Contact Law, one such club that currently believes that they should be in Category Two would actually only be awarded Category Four status if the letter of the law is applied during the audit!
You can read the full article on the new EPPP rules on the Full Contact Law website here.
Post your comments below!