Making the grade from the English Youth System: Part 3

In the concluding part of “Making the grade” PJ Vaughan looks at possible solutions to the loan system. He also suggests what changes could be made to the U18 & U21 leagues and to first team substitute benches.

Loans and Affiliated Clubs

It is clear that “B Teams” will never work in England. However I think a clearly defined affiliation club system could work. How I see the system working is that Premier League clubs will have an affiliation in the Championship and in League One. The system must work for all parties and not just the Premier League clubs.

The affiliated club can loan three players at a time from the Premier League club. Clubs that are relegated from the Premier League and in receipt of parachute payment would not be entitled to loan Premier League players until the parachute payments have expired. They can however loan players to a League One affiliate.

Premier League clubs would not be allowed to loan players to clubs in the same division anymore. If the affiliated Championship club is promoted to the Premier League the affiliation ends. Also clubs would not be allowed to loan players to clubs in the same European competitions as they are in anymore. The 3 exceptional talent loans as mentioned in part 2 of “making the grade” to top flight foreign clubs must also comply with this rule.


Championship Affiliation

The way I see the affiliation system working is, Liverpool would sign an affiliation with Blackpool. Both clubs would agree on loaning Jack Robinson, Jordan Ibe and Joa Carlos Teixeira at the start of the season.

On 1st January Liverpool might call back a player that is performing beyond expectation or Blackpool might decide to return a player that is under performing. Blackpool’s main striker might have got injured so they might send back Jack Robinson and loan Samir Yesil instead.

Liverpool would pay the players wages if the player plays a certain number of games. If the player comes on as a substitute a percentage of his wages will be paid based on the minutes he plays. If he doesn’t play the loan club pays his wages. If he’s injured while at the club the wages are split 50/50.


League One Affiliation

A similar arrangement would be set up with a local League One club, such as Tranmere Rovers. Both clubs would agree to loan Kristoffer Peterson, Jordan Lussey and Jack Dunn. Liverpool would share coaches with Tranmere Rovers while the players are on loan.. They would also loan young coaches for a season and send top coaches when the club has international matches.

If Liverpool decides to let a player go, the affiliate clubs would be given first option on signing them. If the affiliate then developed the player and then decided to sell the players then all transfer fees should be split 50/50.

There could be rewards to the affiliate club for example if someone like Jack Dunn spent a season on loan at Tranmere Rovers and played 30 games or more and the club decides to sell him to Wigan for £2 million then Tranmere would get 15% of the sale price.

However if Dunn made it at Liverpool a substantial development fee could be worked out based on the number of games he played with the affiliate club. These development fees would be standardised by the Premier League and would reward the developing club handsomely.


First team benches

I think there should be a certain portion of the first team benches allocated to players that have played in the academy set up for at least two years. We could trial 11 subs like they do in Serie A, but 5 of these subs must be U21’s for between two and three years. It would give young players an opportunity especially if Liverpool were 3-0 up with 15-20 minutes to go. I believe not getting a chance is preventing development the most. In time the subs could be reduced back to 7 with 3 academy graduates.


Regulating the U18 & U21’s

While I feel the U21 system has its merits, I feel it would be better served if the established Primer League clubs played each other more often. I would like to see Liverpool play Manchester United and City, Chelsea, Arsenal, Spurs, Everton, Aston

Villa etc at least 2 times a season if not 3 or 4. I would also like a strong European U21 competition that includes more clubs.

I would like to see the U18 league developed in a similar manner again with a European competition. It’s clear that the games against the bigger teams matter more and are played at a higher intensity.

We can’t let a situation like last year develop again where Liverpool didn’t have any game against Everton at U21 level and no games with Manchester United and Everton at U18 level.

I think the U18 and U21 leagues need uniformity and the kids need to play as many highly competitive games as possible, there needs to more emphasis on European competition for both the U18 and U21s.



The main purpose of the three part article was to start a discussion on how we can make it easier for younger players to make the step up from the academy to the first team. Most people disagreed with my opinion on paying TV money to the clubs that generate it. That proposal probably was too elitist and would be bad for the league as a whole. I want to thank everyone for their constructive comments on the same.

I firmly believe that stockpiling and excessive loaning is damaging the chances of young players from making the step up to the first team. I think that regulations need to be set up in order to control this before it total spirals out of control.

I also believe that the loan system needs to be reformed and I think the affiliation system is worth discussing. It’s not always the biggest club that has the best academies. Southampton and Aston Villa have had excellent academies. I would like the affiliation system to regulate so there is no clear advantage for any club over another.

I think that it would be great if there was a graduate requirements for squads at each level from the U16’s to the first team. I also think having young players on the bench might allow more opportunities.

The U18 and U21 leagues need to be improved and I feel players will develop more if they play against better oppositions. They could think of playing some of these league games in Ireland, Norway or Asia where the clubs have big fan bases.

I wish to again thank everyone for taking the time to read my articles and for the excellent feedback.

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