A bit of news that had the potential of slipping under the radar, yet could have big implications for the future of Everton – our academy has been awarded Elite status by the Premier League.
By becoming one of the select few who are categorised as Category One under the Elite Player Performance Plan, it is an acknowledgement that the facilities and staff at the Everton Academy is of the very highest quality.
It is something we´ve known for quite some time perhaps, but it´s nice to have the official recognition, from a system that only came into play during the last year.
For a club like Everton, run on a stringent budget with very little net spending on talent to speak of, an efficient youth system will keep us in good stead as we move towards what may be a brave new world when Financial Fair Play becomes properly implemented.
As a Category One academy, we can scout nationwide. This is massive, as it allows us to head hunt potential stars of the future and bring them into the Everton culture at an early age.
We have, of course, already done this, and the likes of George Green and Luke Garbutt have came in recent years to bolster our youth intake.
However, the problem at Everton has been the success rate in terms of progression to the senior squad. We have a reputation of giving youth a chance, but in recent years we don´t generally produce squad players – we produce the occasional blockbuster talent, such as Rooney or Rodwell.
The intent at Everton in the coming years is to become as self-sufficient as possible, so that we can challenge the upper echelons by having well oiled mechanisms to develop our own talent. The signs are there that we have a very talented group of youngsters ready to emerge into the first team picture en masse, rather than in drips and drabs, and that can only be a good thing for Everton.