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Academy status

Birch has detailed the future for Landore and Fairwood as well as the status of the Academy for next season.


barry

Comments

  • Great news. Hopefully Cullen will be the next to step up!
  • Interesting to see that the net cost of running the academy is only £3 million a year not the £5 million a year doing the rounds. Given that Brentford were spending over £2 million a year on their category 2 academy when they decided to close it, the net saving of reducing to Cat 2 status could as little as £1 million a year. A reasonably small amount even when set against a projected future income of £17 million, but small fry when looking at the benefits in terms of the likely net income from player sales and low wage cost contribution to the team. If we were to downgrade to a Cat 3 academy then the risks of our better prospects being poached, even by Cardiff down the road with their Cat 2 academy, are substantial. The proceeds from player sales will be correspondingly diminished.

    If we end up downgrading the Academy given it's superb recent track record of producing talent for the first team and generating significant income for the club, then it becomes clear that the owners have no intention of providing the basis for a sustainable future for the club. A decline in our fortunes on the pitch subsequently would be all but inevitable.
    SeaJack
  • Wyn,
    £5M was the figure quoted many times when Cat 1 status was unveiled whilst  the well known overload in staff for a number of years most probably accounted for that yearly budget, especially the budget that was in-hand for the purchase of young footballers.

    Was there a need to include the last paragraph in your statement, " If we end up downgrading the Academy-----. You could say that the academy has had a stay of execution, so for me, best to see how the next 12 months unravel.
  • £5m is the figure used by Chris Wathan in his BBC Sport article.
  • edited February 7
    Hi Wyn,
    The words he used were "To give you an idea of the costs involved in operating Category One status you are looking at around £3m net per year."

    The word "net" is a strange one to use in this context, so I think he means that it costs £3M more to run the Cat 1 than it does to run Cat 2 or 3, which does make sense. I can't think of any other reason for stating the net cost - what would the "gross" cost represent in this context?

  • Dont the clubs with an Academy get some central funding? the higher the Cat status, the more cash they get.

    So the overall funding needed could be £5m.
  • My understanding is that Cat One academies get £1 million central funding, so my guess is is that Birch meant that we put in £3 million and a further £1 million comes in from outside the club. A few years ago Cat 1 academies were required to have a minimum £2.5 million operational budget, but this could well be about £3 million by now. On this basis I don't see any reason not to take Birch's comments at face value, so any saving from losing Cat 1 status would be fairly modest, assuming we have some sort of academy at all. 

    The challenge for those who are content to see the academy being downgraded is - how do you propose that the club can have a sustainable future? 

    Personally I would rather we retained a Cat One academy and supplemented youth with free transfers and loan signings from Premier League clubs than downgrade the academy and rely on the vagaries of the transfer market. 
    Chris_Sharman
  • The EPPP standards have never directly called for a minimum spend that I'm aware of. It's all about minimum coaching hours, max players per coach, coaching qualifications, facilities and that sort of thing, which the guidelines do provide a rough estimated cost for at each tier. The actual spend is going to vary by the demands of the specific people you bring in, how many kids you have on the books, and how much you're over-staffing for the standards (something every Cat 1 club including us has been doing until the recent redundancies, and maybe still).

    The indicative costs laid out in the 2011 document puts Cat 1 between £2.3m (low spend) and £4.94m (high spend), but the bulk of the difference there is in player wages and recruitment, the projected coaching wage costs are between £550k (low) and £770k (high), and this is an area that receives a decent amount of FA funding afaik (they're not chipping in for transfer fees, I would imagine). Obviously football continues to go mad so all those numbers will have increased in the 9 years since. I don't have a more recent set of guidelines to hand.

    One argument against holding on to Cat 1 "whatever the cost" is that Joe Rodon - the player whose sale many are saying will go to pay for it all for years - was a full professional here before we even achieved that rating. We brought Joe Allen and Ben Davies through without it. Connor Roberts had a full season at Yeovil, and was their player of the year before we were Cat 1. We will produce local players regardless of category status, so long as we have some sort of youth system, with dedicated coaches and a pathway available to senior football (which was missing for most of our time in the PL).
  • WynWyn
    edited February 8
    And can you be really sure that if we hadn't achieved Cat 1 status that the likes of Roberts, Rodon and McBurnie  would have developed to the extent that they were, and that they wouldn't have been poached? Especially as poaching of Brentford's Cat 2 players was given as the main reason for them closing their academy? It's a huge risk to downgrade the academy for a modest saving (£1 million a year for to downgrade to a Cat 2, probably around £2 million to a Cat 3 or to a Brentford style B team). Given the realistic income generation and wage savings in bringing graduates through to the first team it doesn't make any sense to me. Unless the Americans are planning on cashing in on the sale of the land that the Landore facilities are built on?

    I'd really like to hear what those who think it's a smart thing for us to downgrade our academy suggest as a way we can punch above our weight going forwards. Unless they're content for us to drift down to League One or Two, because we don't even have the sugar daddy owners that smaller clubs such as Preston and Millwall have, let alone being able to compete with the bigger fish in the Championship. What would are usp be without the academy? Are people really expecting Andy Scott to work miracles on a shoestring budget?
  • Wyn said:
    And can you be really sure that if we hadn't achieved Cat 1 status that the likes of Roberts, Rodon and McBurnie  would have developed to the extent that they did, and that they wouldn't have been poached? 
    Players on professional contracts can't be "poached" and academy protections do not extend beyond when a player signs their first professional deal (when they can be bought and sold and run down their contracts like any other player). Roberts and Rodon became professionals here before we were Cat 1. Oli was signed when he was 19 and a full pro. So yes, we can say that those players wouldn't have been poached.

    Roberts' progress stalled after the Yeovil loan, with the two poorly-planned spells with Bristol Rovers and Boro. He played the second half of two seasons of PL2 football, the second of which he enjoyed sporadic first team involvement under Carvalhal. Had we been in the Championship at the time he would've been a useful player for us much earlier. Similar with Joe. Compare his progression to that of Cabango - he was a much better player at every age than Ben but was considerably older before getting any senior involvement due to our club's position in the pyramid at the time. The Cat 1 PL2 incubator isn't as important to player development now as it was while we were in the PL. The pathway is shorter, and functional.

    An academy that costs £1m a year instead of £3m a year is then under far less pressure to sell their products to pay the bills every year. That we will continue producing £15m players year on year is extremely unlikely. I see very few potential candidates in the current u18s and u23s. A £2m saving is not modest to a club that's going to have £15-20m turnover pretty soon. That's a significant chunk of the operating budget.

    There are clubs in this division just as if not more productive than us in terms of bringing through youth with Cat 2 or lower status. A top grade academy alone will not see us punching above our weight. 
    Chris_Sharman
  • So you think a saving of £1 million a year is the be-all-and-end-all? Even for a Championship club that's pretty modest. Also when you earlier invoked the sales of Allen and Davies you forgot to mention that they were the only two significant youth products earning transfer fees over a period of over a decade. You also fail to take account of the wage savings of academy graduates as opposed to experienced pros brought in from other clubs. The wage savings alone of fielding several Cabango's as compared to several Peterson's would probably be more than a million. 

    But you've not answered my question. What is your idea of long-term sustainability for the club? How are we going to punch above our weight? Or are you content for us to slip into League One/Two obscurity?
    SeaJack
  • Mark/Wyn - 
    Thanks, I didn't know about the central funding for Cat 1 so , yes, that would explain the word "net". 
    Jasper/Wyn -
    Great debate.
  • What the academy and especially cat 1 status has given local youngsters is a far better identity and inclination to play for their local professional football club than ever before, even for youngsters outside the city. 

    Local, promising kids will still sign for other clubs because of the quota system but having that unique identity with the Swans will hopefully ensure that the better, more promising kids will not sign for other clubs as they used to do in years gone by.

    A lower budget will not enable the club to pay five, six figure sums for the likes of Oli and Adam King but what should then happen is that local and Welsh based youngsters will be given more opportunities. Keeper Lewis Webb from Merthyr and the signing of two youngsters this season from Wrexham are three prime examples of recruitment on a low budget. 

    Hopefully the pending announcement of the new HoR at the academy will give us an indication that a far greater emphasis on local talent will be the club's main priority as far as youth recruitment is concerned.

    Wyn
  • Wyn said:
    So you think a saving of £1 million a year is the be-all-and-end-all? Even for a Championship club that's pretty modest. Also when you earlier invoked the sales of Allen and Davies you forgot to mention that they were the only two significant youth products earning transfer fees over a period of over a decade. You also fail to take account of the wage savings of academy graduates as opposed to experienced pros brought in from other clubs. The wage savings alone of fielding several Cabango's as compared to several Peterson's would probably be more than a million. 

    But you've not answered my question. What is your idea of long-term sustainability for the club? How are we going to punch above our weight? Or are you content for us to slip into League One/Two obscurity?
    Do you think that's "our weight"?

    We would have a Cabango (or Brandon Cooper, Joe Lewis, Cameron Evans etc.) at the club to cover for an injury crisis to our two starting centre halves regardless of being Cat 1/2/3. It's a nonsense argument to suggest that by cutting back to a lower category all our players would have to be bought in like Peterson on higher wages. Too many people equate the idea of losing Cat 1 with having no youth system at all, which helps their case only with people not paying much attention. Easy to cheerlead for "What, you think we shouldn't have ANY young players of our own?!?"

    Leeds are Cat 2 and have seen Clarke, Davis, Shackleton, Gotts progress to the first team, plus local boy Kalvin Phillips a mainstay. Their "Cabango" is Oliver Casey who has made only 1 appearance this season since Ben White hasn't had an injury (yet).

    The fact is the EPPP standards were not designed to be a simple money-making scheme where you put x in and get >x out in player revenue. If they were every club would do it. They were designed to drive up coaching standards in English football (with the aim to make a better national side) by linking increased investment/spending/facilities to incentives like poaching rights. The former is obviously easy to bear - and the latter more valuable - to clubs with the highest income, which we are certainly not any more. We don't even get Checkatrade games any more (or whatever the new name is) because of the first team's relegation.

    For clarity I'm glad we're keeping it for another year. At the end of the day it's not my money, is it. And I get as much enjoyment from the youth football as the first team so my priorities are probably a bit weird compared to the average fan.
  • Jasper, just because nobody took a punt on Rodon or Roberts when we weren't running CAT1 does take away the possibility of a future star being pinched for peanuts in the future.

    imagine we unearth a Phil Foden and we are no longer Cat1. 
    WynSeaJack
  • It does seem though that you don't think that there is no added value in the additional quality and level of coaching exposure that academy players get in a Category One environment, as well as the advantages in playing against a better quality of opponent, and the attractiveness of Cat 1 status to prospective recruits. I think there's a real danger, with a downgrade to a Cat 3 or worse academy, that we go back to the bad old days of producing players who largely end up in the WPL. 

    On the face of it it's hard to see that the modest savings of up to £3 million a year is what's driving this repeated briefing about potential downgrading of the academy - especially  when set against the demonstrable return on investment in terms of developing players for the first team and net transfer income.

    Could it be that the potential value of the Landore site is the driving force all this? The whole Morfa Retail park development, which kicked off nearly 20 years ago is reported to have been worth £50 million, and paid for the £27 million costs of developing the Liberty. If you look at the footprint of the Landore site on Google maps and compare it to the footprint of the retail park, you're talking probably around a third of the latter's area. Given all the development that's happened in the area subsequent to the retail park's establishment is it unreasonable to speculate that the Landore site could be worth £20 million? Crude, ball-park stuff admittedly, but I don't think we should underestimate that cashing in on the one tangible asset that the club possesses might be the main driver here.
    SeaJack
  • The huge problem that will never go away is that even kids at Cat 1 level clubs, the compensation paid for any promising youngster is not as sufficient as it should be.
    Has the old CoE system regarding compensation changed that much to when we received cash off Southampton for Crowell and Jones and when Man City signed Huws. Yes, but not as much as it cost to bring youngsters through the system.

    All we can hope is that should the time come when a lack of finance dictate that the club drops it's Cat 1 category, there will be in place a vibrant local / Welsh scouting network that will continue to sign as many of the top kids as they can, coupled with the first class facilities. 

    As I mentioned before, we are unable to 'hoover' up all the talent that is in the locality as it is but as long as we are proactive, our identity for giving youngsters first team opportunities should hold us in good stead when it comes to future recruitment.   
  • Jasper, just because nobody took a punt on Rodon or Roberts when we weren't running CAT1 does take away the possibility of a future star being pinched for peanuts in the future.

    imagine we unearth a Phil Foden and we are no longer Cat1. 
    I think the risk of players being poached is continually overstated due to a handful of high-profile examples. Paying millions every season as insurance against losing a potential wonderkid is bad economics when you see the number of £10m+ players coming through lower category academies in this division, some of whom were actually released by higher grade outfits before finding their feet later on.

    David Brooks left Man City's academy for Sheff Utd. Chris Mepham was released by Chelsea at 14 and then rejected by a few other London clubs. Cardiff lost Matondo but held on to the lad they really wanted to keep at the time (50p to whoever knows that lads name).
  • Wyn said:
    It does seem though that you don't think that there is no added value in the additional quality and level of coaching exposure that academy players get in a Category One environment
    Not said that anywhere. You're constructing a strawman to argue against. Please respond to what I've typed rather than what it "seems I think".

    The issue is how much each of the benefits are worth given the costs. The calculation changes as our income drops, and opportunities to advance into a first team environment occur earlier. And the issue is not strictly Cat 1 vs Cat 2/3, either.  They're minimum standards. You can have a well- or even over-staffed Cat 3 outfit without the barn and second jacuzzi that does as good a job coaching youngsters as a basic Cat 1 setup with all the frills (some of which sit unused because we're not recruiting u14s from all over the UK who need the in-house education - it's better for the local boys to stay in local schools) but poor attention to details.
  • It's hardly a strawman argument when you're clearly arguing that Cat 1 academies offer the same benefit as lower category academies. You might not be using those words but that's the clear inference of what you're saying - and your latest observation perfectly illustrates that. If indeed an over-staffed Cat 3 academy offers the same benefits as a bare-bones staffed Cat 1 academy would the financial saving be that great? Especially given that the up-front cost of developing facilities and equipping them are largely behind us.

    With a Cat 3 academy we will have a similar profile as Plymouth - a club based in an isolated maritime medium-sized city out west, with a Cat 3 academy, bouncing between leagues one and two. Not a great prospect is it?
  • Wyn said:
    It's hardly a strawman argument when you're clearly arguing that Cat 1 academies offer the same benefit as lower category academies
    So it's your reading comprehension that's the problem. Got it. Can ignore you now.
  • Whatever happens with the academy and the Landore site looking to emulate what our competitors are doing will help us  chart a way to a sustainable future. Brentford offer the most exciting and interesting model, but it will be hard to replicate their success without the top-to-bottom expertise that they possess. Apart from Brentford, Preston and Millwall offer two exemplars of relatively poorly supported Championship clubs that have punched above their weight in recent years. 

    This report on Millwall in 2019 is illuminating: http://financialfootballnews.com/millwall-fcs-2019-finances-record-sale/

    They managed a tiny profit in the 2018/19 season, but even that was quite an achievement by Championship standards. This was partly down to a modest profit on transfers, with three players coming in for a million or so apiece, but this being more than offset by the sale of George Saville for £7 million. Interesting to see how their run to the quarter finals of the FA Cup boosted TV revenue by over £2 million - illustrating how it can be worthwhile giving a greater priority to the FA Cup for financial reasons alone.

    The most significant figures from the article relate to the wage bill. At 92% of revenue their wage bill is still rather high, albeit respectable by Championship standards. I found this bit interesting "Millwall saw wages increase from £13.4m to £16.9m (26%) as the costs of being a competitive Championship team continue to rise. The new signings had to be offered competitive wages, while some existing players also received new, more lucrative contracts." This illustrates the difficulty of controlling wages through recruitment, rather than in-house development. It's all very well downgrading the academy, but how can we realistically compete, even with the likes of poorly supported Millwall, without incurring increased transfer and wage costs?
    SeaJack
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