Defiant United sticking by academy scheme

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SHEFFIELD United last night re-affirmed their commitment to the club’s youth academy at Shirecliffe amid concerns about the effect England’s new Elite Player Performance Plan will have on Football League clubs.

The scheme, which several high-profile figures within the game predict will force some members to scrap their development programmes altogether, were passed by a margin of 46 to 22 at Walsall’s Banks’s Stadium yesterday.

The new system increases the amount of coaching contact time for players in the country’s top academies but controversially scraps the transfer tribunal system, a situation which has led to claims young players will be poached by Premier League teams for a fraction of their true worth.

Although United have yet to reveal their official stance on the EPPP, or whether they were among the four clubs who either failed to attend the vote or abstained, a spokesperson told The Star: “We remain totally committed to our academy and the work we are doing there. Indeed, we fully expect that commitment to get even bigger in the years to come.”

With FL chief’s advising delegates to support the revamp, the spokesperson added: “The outcome has not taken us by surprise. It’s a decision that we have expected.”

Meanwhile, United’s FA Premier Academy League fixture against Sheffield Wednesday next month has been re-arranged. The match, which had been scheduled to take place on November 5, now kicks off at Shirecliffe on November 24 (1.30pm).

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