Figures released by the EFL show that Dale are one of the best in the country at giving young players game time.
Rochdale are ranked fourth out of the EFL’s 72 clubs for the number of league appearances made by players under the age of 21 (or who have turned 21 in 2016-17) during this season.
The stats have been revealed on the day the EFL have formally launched the EFL Futures initiative. Attendees at an event in London were given a full briefing on the new £2.25m financial incentive scheme that rewards EFL clubs who introduce young English players into their starting line-ups.
As was announced earlier this season, a sum of £750,000 per season is being made available for the next three years to reward those clubs who provide starting opportunities in EFL fixtures for homegrown players under the age of 21 and who are eligible to play for England (or Wales for Cardiff City and Newport County)
EFL Futures therefore provides clubs with a direct cash boost to help them to develop more young players within the EFL, while also giving clubs the opportunity to reduce squad wage costs and increase the potential for transfer fee generation as fees are generally higher for young players who are sold with first team experience.
The campaign is central to the EFL’s ambition to create opportunities for young players and represents a collective commitment between clubs, representative bodies and commercial partners to improve opportunities for homegrown players.
Currently 8 per cent of appearances across the EFL have so far been made by English players under the age of 21 this season. Those appearances are being made by 185 players in the EFL, from a pool of 2,300 players currently registered across the three divisions.
Current projections from the 2016/17 season predict that clubs in League One and Two will benefit most from EFL Futures, with £600,000 to be shared between the 48 clubs. The remaining £150,000 would go to the 24 clubs in the Championship.
EFL Futures will become a visible and recognisable initiative across football to increase the number of appearances being made as the EFL will incorporate marketing and commercial expertise to raise awareness. The EFL will work closely with partners and broadcasters to develop ways that EFL Futures can become a regular feature of live matchday coverage and a common mechanism for charting the progress of young English talent.
Speaking at a launch event in central London today, the EFL’s Chief Executive, Shaun Harvey, was joined on stage by respected figures from the game, including recently appointed Charlton Athletic boss Karl Robinson, Gillingham’s Bryan Bull (Academy Manager, Schoolboy Development) and Walsall Chief Executive Stefan Gamble.
The panel discussed their individual roles in supporting the progress of young players, while Shaun Harvey outlined the EFL’s ongoing commitment to improve the number of youngsters that are making their way into the game.
The 72 clubs within the EFL already play a big part in player development, with 14 of the Euro 2016 England squad at last summer’s tournament in France having once been registered at EFL academies. However, just 8 per cent of appearances made so far this season throughout the EFL have been made by English players under the age of 21.
Shaun Harvey, EFL Chief Executive, said: “The EFL has a very strong and proud tradition of supporting the development of young English talent. However, we want to ensure that the EFL continues to have a positive impact on a future generation of English players and I strongly believe that EFL Futures can deliver much-needed long-term change.
“We believe the successful introduction of young English players will not only benefit the EFL as a competition and its 72 clubs, but also the wider game as a whole and we are determined to do what we can to help the nation fulfil its footballing potential. A high performing England national team is good for the game in this country and we are therefore committed to doing everything we can to help the national team develop.
“The EFL is once again leading the way in shaping this collective ambition in football, but this is just the beginning. We will now work tirelessly to secure further commercial support and work closely with clubs to maximise the options available.”