Huddersfield Town Football Club have embarked on a brand new era for their clubs structure. Huddersfield Town have moved from Category 2 status to Category 4 of the Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP). Their move to Category 4 of the EPPP means the club will no longer be able to recruit players under the age of 16 and they have scrapping all youth players from seven age groups starting with the U16's down.
The change to the academy structure will means more time, money and focus into the U17 and U19 groups, in a bid to ensure they can compete at the elite level of youth development with fellow Premier League clubs. The club chairman Dean Hoyle said "Since my first year as chairman in 2009, we have taken great pride in always doing things our own way. The need to find ways of being competitive is more pertinent than ever following the club's promotion to the Premier League. We must find ways of being competitive against our peers. Huddersfield Town fully committed to the new EPPP rules introduced by the Premier League in October 2011, investing large sums of money to establish Category 2 status. The climate has proven difficult for this club considering EPPP rules and the number of big clubs on our doorstep, which offers strong competition for the best local players with Category 1 sides. Our academy system must provide a strong and obvious pathway to the first team for players who are good enough, whilst also representing value for the club. Upon review, this is not something that we could claim. This decision has been the biggest we have undertaken in my time as chairman, and not an easy one. However, we cannot be afraid of change. This is a vital area to the long-term success of this club and we must make every effort to get this right".
Leigh Bromby from the academy said "I’ve been at clubs where the philosophy has just been on paper. Here, it's living and breathing the Terriers identity. Fair play to the manager and (assistant) Christoph (Buhler) for being so open. The detail they work to is extraordinary and not something I’d seen before. I’ve learned so much. You don’t go up from the Championship on one of the lowest budgets without having a structure. This philosophy is dripped down from the first team. We have regular meetings and have learnt a lot in terms of styles, philosophies. I’m sure David learnt that from his time at Dortmund. We believe in a style, as a club. That will stay here, even if the personnel change."
The Way Forward?
Is this the way forward for clubs with a smaller budget?. More focus on facilities and age groups that can supply directly to the first team while saving on the expenses that is younger age groups where many reasons can end the progression of footballers. Interesting move by Huddersfield, one worth keeping an eye on.