Earlier this month Huddersfield Town announced they were to overhaul their Academy – moving from the current Category II set-up to Category IV of the Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP).
But other than being seen as a 'downgrade' in youth development with Under-16 sides phased out by the end of this month, little is really known of the programme.
The EPPP was a scheme initiated by the Premier League and accepted by Football League clubs back in 2011, aiming to establish a hierarchy of academies and fix transfer fees.
The youth programme has six main principles:
1 Increasing the number and quality of homegrown players gaining professional contracts and playing first-team football.
2 Creating more time for players to play and be coached.
3 Improve coaching provision.
4 Implementing a system of measurement and quality assurance.
5 Encouraging investment into the academy system.
6 Making significant gains in every aspect of player development, including education.
As previously mentioned, there are four categories, Category I the highest with each Academy rated by independent auditors considering productivity rates, training facilities and coaching, education and welfare provisions.
The higher the category, the more funding is available although clubs are still expected to put in the majority of the outlay.
Player development is then split into four phases: senior professional (age 18-21), professional (16-18), youth (12-16) and foundation (Under 11) with fixed compensation to clubs for transfer of talent within Academies.
At the time Huddersfield Town gained Category II status for their academy meaning they could coach players from Under 8 and upwards whereas Category IV can only coach in the professional development phase.
Another commonly-held misconception is the downgrade to Category IV would prevent Town from featuring in European competition which is not the case.