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Watford Academy to be audited next month ahead of Premier League's EPPP changes
Watford's Academy will be inspected next month ahead of the Premier League's Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP) coming into force in the summer.
The controversial EPPP will result in a radical overhaul of the academy structure in the Premier League and Football League, as the current two-tier system will see clubs rated from one to four.
The higher the club's rating - with one being the elite - the more funding they will receive and the more options available to them.
Peterborough director of football Barry Fry accused the Premier League of blackmailing Football League clubs into accepting the proposals when the vote was held back in October, as they apparently threatened to withhold £5m of funding for lower league clubs if the motion wasn't passed.
Watford's Harefield Academy is considered one of the leading academies, if not the best, in the country but the Hornets are unsure which rating they will aim for and subsequently be given.
When asked for an update last week, Watford's head of academy Nick Cox told the Watford Observer: "They are still knocking the rules backwards and forwards as we speak. We know the Academy is going to have to open its doors to be audited in mid-April. An independent organisation will audit academies up and down the country and that could be an 18-month process to get every single club in the country audited.
"But as we speak, the rules that are supposed to come into play on July 1 are still being revised so until we know exactly what those rules are, it makes it very difficult for us to make a definitive decision on where we will look to pitch ourselves as an academy."
He continued: "I think it [the auditing] will be a rolling process. I am pretty confident that everything will be up and running for the new season as the governing bodies would like. The Football League and the FA are working together on this and all the noises suggest we will be up and running next season."
The Premier League's website says the EPPP aims to: · Increase the number and quality of home grown players gaining professional contracts in the clubs and playing first-team football at the highest level · Create more time for players to play and be coached · Improve coaching provision · Implement a system of effective measurement and quality assurance · Positively influence strategic investment into the academy system, demonstrating value for money · Seek to implement significant gains in every aspect of player development And the Premier League claim it will do this by focussing on four main areas; coaching, classification, compensation and education.
But it is the compensation issue which has angered a lot of Football League clubs in particular.
From the summer, it is claimed clubs will pay £3,000-per-year for every 12 months the player has spent at a club between the ages of nine and 11.
This will increase for 12 to 16 year olds depending on the academy’s status - ranging from £12,500 and £40,000.
Another one of the controversial changes is that clubs will no longer only be able to sign players who live within 90 minutes of the club.
Cox attended the vote last October with head of football business Ross Wilson and admitted he was concerned the club's best young players may be "cheery-picked" by the bigger sides.
On the day of the vote, Cox explained: "If you look at Watford, we received a considerable amount of money for Harry Forrester when he went to Aston Villa because an independent tribunal committee came to a decision to what they thought we deserved for losing Harry.
"In that equation they would consider his ability, the impact he would have on Watford’s first team, the fact he was an international footballer and all of those sorts of things that were specific to Harry as an individual.
"The proposal that we voted on will actually see all clubs adopt a ‘formulaic approach’ to compensation. There will be a clear, transparent tariff for players, so you will receive X amount of money for every year the boy has been with you.
"It could result in a massive reduction in the amount that smaller clubs will receive if a big club comes and takes a player from you."
A number of Watford's second-year scholars already have professional contracts, including Sean Murray, Tommie Hoban, Jack Bonham and first-year scholar Bernard Mensah.
But Cox said: "Some in the second-year group already have their decision but there are some decisions outstanding and they will be made over the coming weeks before the end of this season.
"All the technical staff, the academy staff and first team staff will get their head together to make those decisions.
"With regards to scholarships, we can't get the boys to sign their scholarships until the third week in April but we have made decisions and we will look to make those announcements when we formally can."