Are football academies a thing of the past?

Football clubs of all sizes have operated football academies to find and develop talent for decades. Clubs have seen football academies as a must for two reasons. The first is a club can bring through a talented young player and sign them to its senior team. In this way, the club has developed a high-quality player and saved large sums on a transfer fee. The second reason an academy has long been seen as important is due to clubs being able to sell talent they developed for large sums. This money is then funnelled back into the first team to pay salaries or to sign expensive transfers.

With times changing and football evolving, there are questions surrounding the importance of club-run football academies. For some clubs, they are expensive and the rewards of selling players or bringing them through to the senior side do not outweigh the negatives. Premier League club Huddersfield restructured their academy a few years ago, and Championship team Brentford eliminated their academy in 2016.

Brentford’s football academies strategy

Brentford decided their investment in their academy wasn’t working. They replaced it with a ‘B’ team playing high-quality opponents. Rather than youngsters from 12-years and up, Brentford have focused on recruiting players 17 to 20. Many of which have already been released by other clubs or have been found through player CVs. Brentford scout what they call “undervalued markets” around the world to find talent late in their teens.

 Will other teams stop their football academies?

It is doubtful many of the top teams will end their football academies. They offer a lucrative option for them in the long run. However, with technology and the game of football evolving, scouting is too. For some time, clubs have relied on scouts to survey the landscape and find quality young players. But the days of trials being handed out to kids who contact the club are long gone.

Brentford’s ‘B’ team simply cuts out the lower levels of the football academy system. It gives the club more focus on players who are of the right age to enter the first team. More lower league clubs could join Brentford’s model, but many clubs still believe one player can land them a windfall of riches. Problem is, it takes a lot of time and money to take a player to a high level from a young age. By the time those youngsters turn 16, many have already been poached by a bigger club’s football academy.

Players looking for trials and opportunities with football clubs shouldn’t hesitate to use modern methods such as Premier Football UK to contact teams. It is one of the best ways to get noticed by clubs as the scouting word evolves.

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