Covid gave U23 homegrown players 50% more chance to play in Prem

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Homegrown young players are enjoying more opportunities in the Premier League with U23s given 50 per cent greater playing time in 2019-20, according to a report from the Premier League.

The increase, compared to the previous three seasons, was due in part to the early impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, but it also reflects extensive investment in youth development by the top flight and English football as a whole.

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The Premier League, EFL and FA set up the Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP) in 2012-13 to improve coaching, education standards and enhance facilities and the approach, which has seen £1.6 billion invested in young talent, and it is now bearing fruit.

Covid gave U23 homegrown players 50% more chance to play in Prem
© Provided by Daily Mail England’s Euro 2020 squad featured plenty of young talent nurtured through the EPPP

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According to an analysis carried out by EY financial services, on behalf of the top flight, 48% of total Premier League minutes were recorded by homegrown players in 2019/20. 

It was a breakthrough season in particular for youngsters with 62 homegrown players making their debut and 16% of all minutes coming from U23s coached at English clubs. This was more than a 50% increase on the average across the previous three seasons.

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The figures were boosted by the promotion of Norwich City and Sheffield United, who arrived in the top flight with homegrown players in their ranks.

Across the Premier League, 14 youngsters were given their debuts after the season resumed, following a pause as a result of the Covid pandemic.

Covid gave U23 homegrown players 50% more chance to play in Prem
© Provided by Daily Mail Premier League is the richest league in the world, but Masters says it supports lower leagues

‘The EPPP from 2012/13 to 2020/21 has benefitted over 90 clubs’ academies across the football pyramid,’ states the report, which is entitled Premier League: Economic and Social Impact.

‘The strength of the Premier League’s approach to homegrown player development and acquisition is evident in the success of Premier League clubs in European club competition, the representation of Premier League players at international level, and the England team’s positive performances at recent tournaments, notably Euro 2020.’

The strength of the English youth development system has also been seen at some top flight clubs in recent weeks, as the Omicron variant of Covid has ripped through squads this season.

When the stats are compiled for 2021-22, they are likely to reveal an all-time high for playing time among young players.

Covid gave U23 homegrown players 50% more chance to play in Prem
© Provided by Daily Mail Leeds United’s Lewis Bate made his Premier League debut at West Ham and is one of eight teens to have been given a chance in the Whites first team this season

Leeds United have already broken a Premier League record by giving eight teenagers their debuts in a single season, after their squad was ravaged by injury and illness.

Crysencio Summerville, Charlie Cresswell, Joe Gelhardt, Cody Drameh, Stuart McKinstry and Sam Greenwood had already made their bow, before Lewis Bate and Leo Hjelde came on in the 3-2 win at West Ham.

The wealth of the Premier League dwarfs the other major leagues in Europe, mainly because the broadcasters are willing to pay more for English football because it is more competitive and therefore, exciting.

In turn, this generates more money for the league to use developing young players. Since 2012, the number of coaches working in the English academy system has increased from 250 to 800. The average youth development budget at a Premier League club is now £5.4M per year, the highest in Europe. Germany is the next highest at £4.7M.

Covid gave U23 homegrown players 50% more chance to play in Prem
© Provided by Daily Mail Premier League chief executive Richard Masters has highlighted the top flight’s contribution to English football. The EY Report comes as ministers prepare to consider a football regulator

Players from the England Euro 2020 final squad, who were products of the EPPP, include Jude Bellingham, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Ben Chilwell, Phil Foden, Reece James, Mason Mount, Marcus Rashford, Declan Rice, Bukayo Saka and Jadon Sancho.

The EY report covers all aspects on the Premier Leagues impact. It comes at a time that the league is fighting a rear-guard action against the creation of an independent regulator for football, which would shift power from the Premier League, EFL and FA to a new body.

The regulator has been recommended in an extensive, fan-led review of football governance by former sports minister and Conservative MP, Tracey Crouch.

Ministers are due to decide on Crouch’s proposals in the coming months, including whether to create a new regulator by an Act of Parliament. Top flight clubs have suggested that if implemented, they could undermine the economic impact of the current ‘product’.

The EY report documents the top flight’s contribution to the UK and regional economy and underlines its strength in comparison to the other five major leagues in Europe.

The Premier League contributed £7.6 billion to the UK economy in 2019-20, a cash terms increase of 840% (440% in real terms) since 1998-99.

Covid gave U23 homegrown players 50% more chance to play in Prem
© Provided by Daily Mail Premier League generates more money than other European leagues through TV revenue

The top flight supported 94,000 jobs during the season, and the 20 elite clubs paid out £3.6 billion to the government in tax, including £1.4 billion from the players alone.

Regionally, the league is calculated to have contributed £2.1 billion to the economies in London and North West and £500M in the Midlands.

‘In the absence of this disruption, the economic impact of the League would have been significantly higher,’ the report states.

The Covid pandemic caused huge disruption, with 2019/20 season temporarily suspended and 472 matches that term and in 2020/21 played behind closed doors or with limited capacity, resulting in an estimated 18 million reduction in attendances.

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