Tranmere Academy more productive than three in Premier League

TRANMERE ROVERS, who scrapped their youth teams below Under-16 level in the summer, had a more productive Academy than three Premier League teams in our 2017/18 rankings.

The research, which was carried out by Mark Crane, covered only clubs in Categories 1 to 3. However, Crane has also looked at the productivity of three clubs that downgraded their Academies in recent seasons: Brentford, Huddersfield and Tranmere.

Tranmere would have ranked 48th in the country - ahead of Bournemouth, Burnley and Swansea. Furthermore, they would have been above four Category 2 clubs (Burnley, Cardiff, Colchester and Hull) and ninth of all the Category 3 sides.

In March, Tranmere announced they were scrapping all teams below U16 level. Having been relegated out of the Football League in 2014/15, they had stopped receiving Premier League funding for their Academy following two seasons in the National League.

Crucially, this also meant they stopped receiving compensation when U16 players signed for other clubs.

“Six of our Academy’s most talented players have left during the last 12 months and signed for other clubs in the North West,” the club said in a statement announcing the impending closure of their Academy in March this year.

“Had the club still been within the EPPP system, and despite the reduced compensation inherent in the system, it would still have received more than £200,000 in compensation for those players. As a consequence of being outside the EPPP system, we received nothing.”

Although Tranmere were promoted back to the Football League at the end of 2017/18, they will not be able to re-enter EPPP until the end of next season at the earliest, TGG understands.

According to Crane’s research, Tranmere produced two Premier League players, three in League One, five in League Two and 14 who featured in the National League last season. That gave them a weighted total of 43.

Premier League Huddersfield - who announced they were dropping from Category 2 to 4 in September 2017 - would have placed equal 38th in our Productivity Rankings.

That would have made them the 14th best Category 2 Academy in the country - which gives validity to a quote from Academy Manager Leigh Bromby earlier this year that “we were average across the board at Category 2.”

Chairman Dean Hoyle has made much of the fact that the Terriers’ Academy has only produced one Premier League player (Jon Stead), which is true; but the rankings show that they did produce 6.5 Championship players (we split points where more than one club has been involved in a player’s development), five League One players, seven League Two players and 2.5 players who featured in the National League in 2017/18.

That gave them a weighted total of 58.

Brentford, who announced in May 2016 that they were scrapping their Academy to run an “elite development squad” of 17 to 21-year-olds - would have placed 45th in our rankings.

They produced two Premier League players, one in the Championship, four in League One, seven in League Two and eight who featured in the National League in 2017/18, giving a weighted total of 48.

However, it’s worth noting that a number of their products are making waves despite being yet to make a first-team appearance in pro football.

In July, we reported that Brentford products Dermi Lusala (now at Tottenham), Levi Laing (Arsenal) and Xavier Simons (Chelsea) had started for England U16s against Croatia.

Two other Brentford graduates - Josh Bohui (Manchester United) and Carlo Poveda (Manchester City) - are also rated very highly.

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