Thinking of joining a Football Academy?
If your son is an aspiring footballer and you are thinking about joining a football academy or centre of excellence you might want to read on before signing your footballing life away in a fit of excitement!
When you join a football academy or centre of excellence you are joining a professional club and therefore your son will be required to sign a registration form for either 1 or 2 years, dependent on his age. Once you have signed, your son’s registration will then be lodged with the Football League.
Most parents fail to scrutinise what their son is actually agreeing to as many are grateful to simply get their boy into an academy or centre of excellence and can only look forward to seeing their son play against the top teams, receive the best coaching, and hopefully go on to make it as a professional footballer.
At the time of writing, there are 32 academies and 35 centres of excellence in England. Each have squads of players from the ages of 9 to 16 and most squads have around a dozen players in each, excluding the actual academy team. Therefore there are around 6500 boys attending professional clubs at any one time and only a very small percentage make it as a professional in any league!
What happens when it all goes wrong?
Let’s say your son has played at an academy for the past season and for whatever reason now wishes to leave his club and play his football elsewhere. You may think it’s as easy as giving the coach a quick nudge, tell him that your son wishes to ply his trade elsewhere and bingo off you go. In reality, it’s far more difficult than that!
Signed for life – well nearly!
There are many misconceptions about football academy contracts and what you son can and can’t do when he signs for a professional club…Here’s a few questions and answers that you may find interesting!
Football Academy FAQ
Can my son play for his local team?
No – Once you sign your registration form you will not be allowed to play for your local team.
Can I play for my school?
Maybe – Some academies allow you to represent your school and some don’t. It all depends on the policy that the academy/centre of excellence has. In some cases, you may be allowed to play for your school but training commitments can often get in the way as many academies run training sessions on Saturday mornings, which is when most schools play matches.
How long do trials last?
A maximum period of six weeks.
What age can I join an academy or centre of excellence?
You can train at a professional club from a very early age. Some academies take kids in as young as 6, however you cannot sign for a professional club until you are 9 years old.
How long does my registration last?
- Under 9, 10, 11 and 12 age groups registration is for a period of one year using registration form YD4.
- Under 13 to Under 16 registration is for two years using registration form YD4.
- Under 13 and under 16 where a player signs for the maximum period of 4 years on his twelfth birthday. Registration is for four years using registration form YD6.
- Under 13 to Under 18 years of age registration could be for up to six years using registration form YD6(A).
When do I have to sign my contract?
There is a window period that provides an opportunity for both players and clubs to decide if they wish to sign for the next season. These set times must be abided by. Clubs must notify a player on or before the third Saturday in April if they wish to retain or terminate the player’s registration for the next season.
What if I want to leave?
If you want to leave your academy or centre of excellence and you are regarded as a good player, you could be in for a long drawn out battle!
Be very careful which form you accept when you leave a club.
There are two types of forms that are used to cancel a players registration.
- Form YD10 (with compensation)
- Form YD7 (without compensation)
If a player is released on a Form YD10 a club is entitled to claim compensation from any other club that attempts to register the player with the Football League. No other club can register a player until the club that holds the player’s registration receives an acceptable compensation package, or provides the player with his YD7 form, which then releases the player without any compensation rights.
What are compensation rights?
Compensation rights are held by a professional club as soon as they submit a player’s registration form to the Football League. What this means is that a club may ask for compensation from another club that seeks to register a player that is already registered at the Football league.
For example, your 10 year old son joins ABC Academy and spends a full season there. The following season your son takes a dislike to the coach and decides he no longer enjoys his football at said academy. You make a few phone calls and bingo Academy XYZ welcomes him with open arms.
The painful bit comes when Academy XYZ submits your son’s registration form to the Football league and discovers that Academy ABC already hold the players registration. If Academy ABC sees potential in your son they will most likely ask for some form of compensation from Academy XYZ. This could amount to roughly £3000 for every year of development, plus add-ons in the event the player gets a scholarship and goes on to play professional football. In any event, very messy and not what you want to hear!
Not many people know that an academy or centre of excellence can hold the compensation rights for a player until they are 30 years old. Yes, 30 years old!
The fact is that most professional clubs will not pay compensation for young players, which means that a player could be left with no alternative but to return to local football if an agreement cannot be made between both clubs.
A player that has been released from a professional club on a YD10 and subsequently decides to return to Sunday League football for a period of time cannot sign for another professional club. There is a misconception that playing in the Sunday League for a season then allows a player to return to academy football without any compensation issues. This is not the case, as a club holds the compensation rights to a player until they are 30 years old if no action has been taken to obtain the players YD7 form.
What happens if my club will not release me?
If your son is stuck in no man’s land and a compensation package cannot be agreed, you can appeal to the Football League who will speak to the club on your behalf and act as a mediator. If an agreement still can’t be reached, the case will then go to a tribunal who will decide if any compensation is due. You can contact the Football League on 0844 463 1888.
Of course, your child should not join a professional club with the expectation that at some point he will move to another club, however you should be aware that by signing a registration form you could be committing your son to a professional club for a very long time!