It's All About The Money, Money, Money… TSS October 28, 2011 Leeds United 22 Comments As predicted, Ken Bates touched upon the Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP) in this week’s Yorkshire Radio interview and did nothing to alter my view that the current system is fundamentally flawed and that the Premier League were right to enforce change. Whilst I totally agree the Premier League should not be using Football League subsidies to force clubs into voting through their plans, the underlying problem our chairman has is clearly a monetary one. On the Premier League’s threat to revoke League subsidies; “This could be worth £2.5m to Championship clubs and 3, 4, 5, £600,000 to a League Two club, which is very valuable and very significant amount of money.” On the new rules; “What happens now is you run your academy, find a kid, Premiership club comes along and nicks one and pays you nothing for it. It’s all back-handed. They say, if he does this and if he does that and if he does the other, we’ll pay you more but the Premiership clubs have got so much money they should put their money where their mouth is.” On Taiwo and Woods’ move to Chelsea; “…they quite illegally took them down, showed them around the training ground and put them in a hotel, took them to a European league match and then the kids walked out and signed. After a lot of arguing, we got £4million, having been offered £200,000.” On the alternative; “It’s sometimes easier for them to come out on top by staying at their local clubs and develop. I won’t say develop properly because if they have got what it takes, they’ll still get to the top and clubs will come and buy them. Meanwhile, we also get a decent fee for the clubs that do all the hard work bringing them up.” It’s not that I don’t understand people’s concerns on this subject, but Ken Bates’ views are typical of so many Football League chairmen whose only problem seems to be the loss of their cash dispensing academies. The development of players is almost a non-issue. This has been reflected in the press too. Take Phil Hay’s argument for the Yorkshire Evening Post as an example, which was similarly focused on the financial loss Football League clubs will incur, rather than the beneficial/detrimental effect this will have on players. What the Premier League has done reminds me of a line from Nineteen Eighty-Four, the George Orwell classic: “One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship.” No one can deny that the Premier League are trying to consolidate their power, creating a dictatorship reign over the rest of the football pyramid. But in doing so their focus is also on producing exceptional talent by means of almost infinite resources. The Football League’s alternative is to snatch kids up at a young age, hope they turn out to be world-beaters and auction them off to the highest bidder once they turn professional – or claim massive sums of compensation when snatched beforehand. Ken Bates is not the virtuous hero of this saga. He hasn’t conjured up some altruistic vision of an exceptional youth set up. In fact, he hasn’t even offered an alternative to what the entire footballing community agree, was a flawed academy system. The truth is, altruism is not present in the Premier League’s plans either, but what they proposed is better for the kids – and that’s all that matters here. The Premier League will be investing hundreds of millions in their academies to qualify for elite status, whilst the Championship would have continued to run there’s on a shoestring, ensuring they maximise profits. I agree that neither system is perfect. But the one that ensures players get more coaching from an increased number of trained professionals, and that the facilities are second to none is better than what the Football League is willing/able to offer. The fact is, that in 5-10 years from now a Premier League Leeds United will probably have an elite academy of their own. We could do it now if Ken was willing to invest around £900,000 a year (18 coaches x £50,000 each), we have the facilities after all. But, like the rest of the Football League, Bates is too busy complaining about the pot of gold the Premier League has stolen from the end of his Thorp Arch rainbow. This has never been about what’s best for the players, and it never will be while money is involved. That’s why I support the EPPP – not because it’s perfect and not because I’m some elitist moron who spouts “dog eat dog world” clichés, but because the old system was never about player development – it was all about potential goldmines.