This is a guest piece by Daniel Yeo.
In an interview with the BBC’s Sport Academy, Roger Skyrme claimed that it’s “ultra-competitive out there, and very few players make it at the top level.”
This brutal competitiveness has driven academies to neglect other aspects of their young players’ lives. Typically, when a 16-year-old signs up as a scholar, he spends one day during the week receiving some sort of educational support from the club and the rest either training or playing matches. This sounds promising. It’s not.
According to the PFA, of the initial intake of academy scholars, only around forty percent receive full-time contracts after two years. Even more shockingly, by the age of 21, just twenty percent play professional football at any level. Suddenly, with four out of five scholars ultimately failing to make a breakthrough in the footballing world, one school day per week seems pretty measly.