The EPPP ensures professional clubs invest millions in youth team development and infrastructure. This aims to improve the production of homegrown players and the category status of each Academy. Sometimes these youth facilities are better than various Football League first team set-ups. However, experts believe this is what English academies need to produce more world class.
With all this financial investment and competition, youth academy wages were sure to increase. Not to mention fees demanded by player agents.
Do Academy Players Get Paid?
The answer is yes, Academy players get paid. But, it depends on the player’s age, the club, talent and interest from other clubs.
Category 1 and 2 clubs can register players at 9 years old, but these players do not receive wages. Sometimes parents may receive financial help from the club for travel and schooling. Youth academies may also offer discreet incentives to keep players happy
Youth players receive a salary when they leave school and sign a professional contract. Like other industries where an apprentice receives a low wage before signing a professional contract. This is when players move into the Academy scholarship phase.
Scholar’s wages are around £4-7k per season, depending on the club. So, they do not differ from a trainee plasterer or electrician. The young person must learn their trade first before earning a full wage and the money increases.
Youth Player Contracts
Football clubs can offer a player a pro contract at age 17 years old. This is when the money rises and they will receive a traditional salary. This ranges from club to club, players can earn £300 -£1.5k per week (even more for hot prospects).
This is often subject to how talented or sought after the player is and how close he is to first team football. E.g, after 2 Premier League starts Raheem Sterling at age 17 negotiated a new 30k a week contract. Find out more on youth academy contracts.
Youth Player Pre-Agreement Contracts
Talented scholars may sign a pre-agreement if they are too young for a pro contract. However, these are easy to get around for the big club interested in signing the player.
Pre agreements are good for two reasons:
- To show a commitment to the player from their current club
- To increase any transfer fee, if the player leaves for a bigger club through a tribunal.
Football Agents and Youth Player Wages
Love them or hate them, they are here to stay. Like estate agents selling your house, football agents are the dealmakers in modern football.
One of the main reasons for the spike in youth player wages is down to football agents. Players cannot sign with an agent until the age of 16.
Agents get a lot of bad press, yet working with an established agent is best practiced for a pro footballer. They take care business, so the players can develop their game.
In the space of 4 seasons a talented young footballer’s agent might:
- Negotiate his first professional contract (if 17 yo this can only be for 3 years)
- Negotiate a new deal on his 18th birthday (18 year old contracts are up to 5 years)
- Renegotiate a new deal after promoting to first team squad
- Then renegotiating a new deal after becoming a first-team regular
- Re-negotiate a new deal if the player progressing to the national team
Throughout negotiations, the agent will meet other clubs to the raise the value of his player
How Much Do Academy Players Get Paid Compared to the Rest of the World
Wages in England’s youth system are astronomical compared to other football nations. Countries with endless amounts of talent but less money pouring into the domestic league. Franch players with 200+ appearances may earn less than the £30k a week Raheem Sterling earned at 17.
However, Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool will not have another Raheem wage situation. He has implemented a wage cap for all 17 years old in their first year of a pro contract. This new policy aims to help lower decrease the pressure on young players. Youth players can no longer earn a salary basis of over £40,000 a year.
Southampton FC and Spurs also chose to adopt this refreshing approach to youth development. Hoping this will keep the players feet on the ground. We expect other category one academies to follow this example soon.
The English youth player wages has had a detrimental effect on player production. England’s youth compete with the best. The transition from wonder kid to first team regular is becoming more uncommon.
Youth players believe they have made it, without even breaking into the first team. The high wages only stunt the player’s hunger, motivation and desire to be world class.
The lack of English players progressing into top-level football only increases the value of the few that make it. This allows the player’s agent to demand even higher wages for youth players of promise.
The vicious cycle continues.