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Yeovil Town to Close Youth Programme

Yeovil Town will close its youth programme at the end of this season citing expense and a lack of progress on a proposed Huish Park development plan as their reasons.

The move comes less than 12 months after the Glovers axed its 9-16 year-old Centre of Excellence programme following the introduction of the Premier League’s Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP).

Under the EPPP proposals Yeovil would have been required to increase its investment from £30,000 a year to £105,000 to receive matched funding.

Doubts over further payments and restrictions of the scheme have been offered as reasons behind this week’s announcement.

The Glovers currently have 13 full-time apprentice players at the club with the seven reaching the end of their two year programme in June.

Discussions are ongoing in relation to the futures of the six who still have year to run while Head of Youth Scott Green’s situation also remains unresolved.

A club statement read:

“YTFC have announced their decision to withdraw from the Football League’s Youth Development Scheme with effect from next season. The Premier League’s Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP) has proven to be too prescriptive and extremely expensive and has seriously affected the Club’s ability to continue with a Youth Development programme.”

“Uncertainties regarding the future solidarity payments offered by the Premier League, together with the lack of progress on the proposed ground development with the local authority have been additional factors in the decision process.”

“It has been an agonising decision. Last year the Centre of Excellence for under-9s to under-16s was closed because the investment and facilities required by the Premier League’s EPPP scheme were not available.”

“It had been hoped that an under-18s scholarship programme would be more sustainable but the criteria the club is expected to meet is expensive, excessively bureaucratic and requires more resources than can be reasonably provided at this time. It is extremely disappointing to be in this position but this action has been taken in the interests of the club’s overall viability.”

“Despite having to close the academy, the club remains committed to encouraging youngsters to play and improve their football skills. Coaching will therefore continue at schools in the area and through the advanced development centres managed by the Yeovil Town Community Sports Trust.”

Despite apprentices occasionally being named as substitutes, the club has not produced a first-team player since its academy was created four years ago.

“The club has worked hard to make the youth programme work but it has not been able to produce any players for the first team squad in recent years,” said Manager Gary Johnson.

“It is harder for local lads to progress to that level now we are in League One and looking to compete at the upper end of that division.”

“Substantial additional investment would be required to make the youth development programme effective and the funding just simply isn’t available at the moment.”

“I have therefore advised the board of directors to focus the recruitment resources we do have on 18-21 year olds that have not been given the opportunity of first-team football at Premier League and Championship clubs.”

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