Which category will your football academy or centre of excellence be in next season?

Football Academy rules

The powers that be at the Football League are all in meetings at the moment. Don’t bother trying to get hold of anyone; you won’t haveFootball League academy rules much luck! My guess is that they are all debating the forthcoming new football academy rules and Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP) that are due to come into effect from next season.

As far as we know, virtually all the football academies and centres of excellence have not yet finalised which tier they will be classified in next season. Only the big clubs, such as Manchester United and Manchester City, know which category they will be in come next season because they already have the funding, full-time staff, and the appropriate facilities to slot straight in as tier 1 academies.

So what about the academies that aren’t in the upper echelons of the football world and don’t have a Sheikh Mansour or Roman Abramovich to fund them?

The majority of academies and centres of excellence will be in either tier 2 or tier 3 with many academies dropping into the same tier as the centre of excellence clubs.

Historically, academies have played each other, however the new rules will mean that match days will change dramatically for academy players. From next season, they will play against centres of excellence as well as their local academies. The biggest difference players will notice is the poor playing surfaces at certain centres of excellence where matches are played on school fields with pitches that are not dissimilar to the quality of the average Sunday league pitch. Compared to the playing surfaces at the top academies, it will be like kicking a ball over a ploughed field in the winter months. Hardly a step forward for the academy player!

Do you know which tier you will be playing in next season?

Manchester City's Sheikh Mansour

Manchester City's Sheikh Mansour

At present the categorisation of professional clubs for next season appears to be a closely guarded secret, but we believe that players and parents have a right to know as soon as possible so we’d like to hear from you if you know which tier your academy or centre of excellence will be in next season.

Drop us a comment if you would like to share in the debate!


17 comments… add one

  • Great post, I am a newbie in playing football and I really want to enhance my skills and knowledge in playing this sport.
    I had learned a lot form your post and also helped me. Thanks :) Keep posting!

  • Kevin Mason

    Hello! I would like to know what category, my son’s team, Barnet, will be in next season.

  • David Blanchard

    Hi could you tell me which category Lincoln City FC are in this year 2013/14 season.

    • Football Academy Talk

      Would guess there a Cat 3 club?

    • Football Academy Talk

      As far as I know they are in Cat 3 unless someone can tell us different?

  • Max Tomlinson

    Hi Could you please tell me which category Grimsby Town Academy are in?

    • Football Academy Talk

      They are in Cat 3.

  • Tommy

    My son has had keen interest from crystal palace and chelsea in the past but none offered a contract and had him training with the academy teams for long period of time. Dagenham and Redbridge have contacted me and put a contract on the table. To help aid with the decision I wanted to find out what category they were in. And in addition, what are the main things I should look out for in the contract? Any help?
    He’s u9 btw

    • Football Academy Talk

      I’m unsure what category they are in but will try and find out for you.

      With regards to contracts, they are more like registration forms and generally have very little detail, such as the clubs policy on whether players can play for their schools etc. What your son is committing to be signing papers with the club is that the club will hold your sons compensation rights for the rest of his playing career. In other words, if your son signs and in a years time he wants out, he will NOT be allowed to sign for another professional club without the permission of the club, which is usually not given if the club thinks he has any potential.

  • Devina

    What Category are Southend United in please

  • markoussparkous

    They are Category 3, if you sign and your son is good enough at this age he may get taken by a bigger club but realistically only up to U11. Compensation will grow and you may find that he will have to remain at the Daggers whether you want him to or not. Football Academy Talk are right be very careful.

    In fact if I were you, knowing what I do now I would not sign yet. I would find a really good Sunday team who play academies regularly, get your son to play representative school football hopefully at County Schools level and hold out until at least under 14 level. My son signed at 11 to a cat 3 club, on the rebound from 3 trial separate periods at Spurs. He was subsequently spotted playing for London Schools. I was approached and asked if he was free to trial by official club scouts from Fulham, Chelsea, Arsenal, Charlton, Reading, Arsenal, and….Tottenham. But he couldn’t, and he can’t. Each were interested up to a certain level but not enough to pay the compensation. In fact apparently Arsenal refuse to pay compensation on principle because they believe they can get boys at about the same level and train them up to be better anyway.

    Also guess what happened to all the boys who were signed by Tottenham when my boy was on trial at U9. He played against their U16 last season and knew none of the boys. They had all been released except 1. So much for their intricate profiling system and recruitment process!

    Realistically the odds are even more stacked against Cat 3 academy players making any sort of decent living out of the game now as these clubs will be able to have the pick of the released players from higher up the food chain.

    • Football Academy Talk

      You make some great points!

      Fully agree with your last point about Cat 3 clubs picking up players at U16 that have been released from Cat 1/2 clubs. You see it every Feb/March when players turn up at the Academy with other club training gear for the tials. The majority of players are simply there to make the numbers up and many clubs dont care if none of the boys at under 9 make it as they simply ship them out at 16 and bring in players released from the Cat 1 clubs.

      Absolutely crazy, cut throat business that should be regulated far more strictly.

      Imagine a secondary school with a link to a top University that takes your boy at 11, fails to educate him for 5 years then puts him on the dole at 16 and takes a kid from a different school in to their University. There would be uproar!!!

      • taxiservice

        Agree with all the points above, but to be honest my son is at Category 3 club and I am pretty sure that he will be released at 14 or 15 due to the points raised above. Most of the parents at our club are fairly pragmatic about this and as long as you don’t have expectations that are unrealistic just enjoy the ride.

        My son loves having a nice kit, training (its free) and level of coaching he is receiving, the trips abroad and trips to Cat 1 & 2 clubs with their great facilities. As long as you take it for what it is I would recommend signing for a Cat 3 club.

  • Spencer Jones

    What category are Rotherham United in?

    • Football Academy Talk

      Category 3

    • Football Academy Talk


  • milemuncher

    there are always questions on here about which category a club is graded at – I found this which may help answer those questions


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