Youth Policy. A waste of Money?

What is happening at youth level? Why has Liam Brady who has been Head of our Youth programme decided to resign – and this after spending most of his life at Arsenal?

Is the Youth Policy a waste of Arsenal’s resources?

It must cost a great deal of money to coach all these kids from the age of 8 up to the reserve and first teams – are we getting value for money? Who have we managed to sell from this outlay in order to “balance the books”? Lansbury, Stokes, maybe a few more. And who in today’s first team has made it from the hundreds who have passed through the ranks? Wilshere, Frimpong and ……?


Academy Team 2013

Gibbs, Ramsey, Cesc, Coquelin, Theo, etc all came to AFC from other team’s youth systems. Perhaps this is the better option – to cherry pick and if this is the new Arsenal way, then why bother with the  little kids?

There has been a cull in the Academy with almost half the squad shipped out. They will be replaced by other young men pursuing their dream. Who knows, one or two of these chaps may make the first team but statistically it is highly unlikely.

However, there is another viewpoint and that is Arsenal in the Community. It is essential that at a local level Arsenal continue to be the pinnacle of youth football in North London. We have a fantastic reputation as educators of good footballers and there are many of our “rejects” who make a decent living in the lower leagues. In these days of balance sheets and “value” it is laudable that the club continues it’s traditions.

Looking back through the Wenger Years I can only think of Ashley and Jack who have risen to the top, perhaps there are others but this is a 30 minute post and I have done little/No research (sorry).

So, the Youth Policy. Value for money …. No, Valuable ….. Yes.


Direct from the Spurs Youth Policy and Just for Peaches 

written by Big Raddy

89 Responses to Youth Policy. A waste of Money?

  1. Belfastgooner says:

    Thanks BR. I’m sure the club will continue to invest in our youth policy at THOF. The goals of the club are obviously to develop a successful first team but being a force for good in the community comes a close second.
    Roll on the new season!

  2. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Hols Raddy….Didit is on his hols!!!!

    Who the heck spends their sundays on a train to Harrogate and calls that hols?

    From a purely financial point of view the youth system is a complete waste of money, however, if like me you view a great footballing institution as part of the wider community then I say carry on.

    The first team squad (and thats where the bigger salRies are) I say cull away

    Thanks for post Raddy.

  3. Dog says:

    It does look like the youth policy has failed to produce in a value for money way and perhaps it would be better to use the weight of the club and cherry pick good players as they come good at other clubs systems.

    Got to be thinking what the money spent (wasted) there would have done for our trophy drought years if used for a quality player or 2…

  4. LB says:

    I like your 30 minute posts BR.

    “From a purely financial point of view the youth system is a complete waste of money.” (Micky)

    When I read this it made me wonder if this is actually true?

    Is the criteria that we only count English players?

    Why don’t we count: Gibbs, Ramsey, Cesc, Coquelin and Szezceny? True they came from other youth academies but they then came to ours where they were polished ready for the first team.

  5. Big Raddy says:

    Micky. Thought that would get a response!

  6. MickyDidIt89 says:


    I think by picking out those players you are being somewhat elastic with interpreting a youth system 🙂


    Trouble maker o_O

  7. Janman says:

    Tony Adams, a great Arsenal legend but has the IQ of a frigging peanut!

  8. Ian Ure Face says:

    With the outrageous amounts of money being banded about, it just cannot carry on, so with the implementation of FFP, youth policies/academy`s are the way forward and even Man City know this. This is why they are investing heavily in the link below, it`s their plan B if FFP works . It should and will be ours as well !.

  9. Ian Ure Face says:

    I couldn`t find a link to the Catholic Church youth policy, but apparently it`s right up there !. I`m told they have some of the finest 5-a-aside bash the bishop training facilities around !.

  10. Good post BR

    Leaving aside the “community” issue and concentrating on the “waste of money” aspect…
    Yes, it’s a waste of money. And no, it’s not a waste of money.

    I’ve done no research either as I’m up against time today.
    But if we go back to the not-so-distant past – Ashley Cole.
    Not only did he give us value for money on the pitch, but we got a very decent price for him when we sold him.
    A quick check in ‘Wiki’ reminds me that the offer from Chelsea in ‘cash only’ was 16 million pounds (although Arsenal wanted 25 million). We did a ‘cash/player deal instead – 5 million plus Gallas (the same cash equivalent).

    LB has mentioned few players of more recent times.
    How about Wilshere… what value on his head right now?

    It is, however, disheartening (understatement) to see so few make it these days.

    Think “BIG RADDY”, Big Raddy. Eh?

  11. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Think I’ve missed something. What has Tone been saying?

  12. MickyDidIt89

    Tony wants to be on the Board of Directors and thinks he should have had Chips’ job instead of Chips.
    In a nutshell.

  13. Ian Ure Face says:

    I think Kelsey already posted the “In a nutshell ” stuff on previous post !.

  14. Kelsey

    If you are with us…
    The answer to yesterday’s question is “No”, I haven’t received an email from you.

  15. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Big Tone for Chairman

    Massive ROLF

  16. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Tha.ks for the link Face

    Had me in stitches. It would have been a “visionary decision” to make me Chairman.

  17. Red Arse says:

    Excellent 30 minute Post, Randy. Impressive.

    For the sake of argument, can I posit a slightly different viewpoint?

    The question perhaps should be, ‘what do Arsenal deem to be a successful youth system?’ You see, I think part of what AW would consider success would be the production of 1 or 2 youngsters who could go into the senior squad.

    Over the years there has been an increasing number of players, of any nationality, who have knocked on the door to the first team with Wilshere, Sczseney, Gibbs, Ramsey, Walcott, Frimpong, Walcott, Miguel and Coquelin in or around the squad currently.

    There are a number of others not far behind them in Chucks Anneke, Benik Afobe, Chuks Akpom, Serge Gnabry, Bellerin and Eisfeld also demading attention.

    The fact that some of them started off elsewhere is immaterial, in my opinion, because they needed to be schooled in the ‘Arsenal way’ and exposed to a big club mentality.

    Then we need to ask whether ‘value for money’ is a major consideration as regards a success criterion for the youth set up, or has that become confused with ‘is the cost of the youth set up worthwhile for Arsenal?’.

    In the first case, the value for money question is answered by the numbers of youth successes mentioned above. Every business wants value for money, but a training policy is de rigeur for all clubs and can be considered to be an opportunity cost for any well run club.

    I do not know how much Arsenal spend on their youth scheme, but in today’s professional football environment, whatever we spend is peanuts in the overall scheme of things, and if the club’s management think it is worthwhile, I, for one, would not try to second guess them.

  18. Shard says:

    Is anyone else at barnet today? I’m there right now.

  19. Shard says:

    FAbrice muamba just walked past

  20. Joe says:

    The youth policy is not a waste of money in fact it’s probley making money over the long range. Becides the fact it has produced players for the first team players who don’t make it at Arsenal are sold on to other clubs with sell on clauses. Just one more thing it produced D Bentley as we all know we sold the dick to Blackburn with a 50% sell clause. Which netted us 7-8m from spurs that alone makes are youth policy worth every penny.

  21. RockyLives says:

    Nice one BR

    I agree with points by Redders and LB: I can never understand why players who are brought in to our youth set up at age 12, 14 or even 16 are not considered by some fans to be proper Arsenal “youth products.”

    So, I would include Cesc and RvP as products of our youth system even though they were at other clubs before.

    I suppose it would be helpful to know what we spend on the youth set-up, but I imagine one player coming through every two to three years who either makes the first team or can be sold for millions elsewhere probably pays for a fair chunk of it.

  22. Red Arse says:

    Hi Rocky, 🙂

    I hope you and the family are enjoying Italia.

    You made me think of my visits to Italy and I realise that I am very ignorant about the country, tho I have been to a number of ‘touristy’ parts (actually on business – allegedly) it has normally been in hotels. :-).

    You know, contractual visits to Rome and Milan have then required pressing trips to Venice, Rimini, The various Lakes, Florence, Capri, Vesuvius etc — (Vesuvius? Yup, crying out for forensic accounting investigation) 🙂 – usually in the company of English speaking Italian hosts, so I still speak zero Italian, other than ‘ti amo tanto’ for fun, and ‘ciao bambina’ in emergencies.

  23. chas says:

    Don’t all clubs have a youth team set-up.
    What’s the alternative?

    Even I think including BSR as a product of our youth system is pushing it a bit. He came aged 21. Slightly different to Cesc coming at 16.

    This is for Peaches….

  24. Big Raddy says:

    I was playing devil’s advocate. I firmly believe we should keep the youth programme. Not only is it good for London and Arsenal but also pays for itself.

  25. Big Raddy says:

    chas. I found that pic as well but rejected it on grounds of it not passing the Peaches Mum test. 🙂

  26. Personally I think the youth policy can be extremely worthwhile. Cheap fees are picked up from selling youth products, but at the end of the day every little helps. Furthermore, all it takes is a few world class players to come through the young system in order for it to be worthwhile – look at Giggs, Scholes and the Nevilles at MUFC. A generation of players like that could soon be Arsenal’s, if they keep faith in the youth system and remain patient.

  27. Gooner In Exile says:

    Afternoon all, good question Raddy followed by RA’s question about what is successful in terms of the Youth Team.

    Lets start with those picked up at a young age and taken through the ranks to first team….here we have Jack, Frimpong the first since Cole to make it through, and before Cole who was there?

    Now I don’t know what the cost of the academy is.

    If it costs £30m to take a group of youngsters from 6 to 16 and only one player a year is deemed good enough is that good value for money? If on the other hand the cost is £10m or less then it probably is.

    It’s a shame the likes of Watt and Afobe haven’t had the chance to shine as Jack has, is that the clubs fault, the fans fault or Wengers fault? 4th place is a minimum requirement set by the board, would a bench of youngsters from the academy helped achieve that? Especially if it meant that we hadn’t bought Koscielny or Arteta?

    Is it easier to blood youngsters in a successful side?

    Would the fans allow youngsters to be blooded, especially those taking longer to acclimatise…..would a homegrown Watt be given more time by the faithful than the bought in Bendtner?

  28. chas says:

    I knew you were, BR.
    It was a genuine question. What other choice is there?

    Is Liam only packing it in at the end of next season?

  29. Big Raddy says:

    Enjoying the cricket so far with India 67/5.

    Come on England

  30. LB says:

    Was Liam pushed or did he jump?

  31. Big Raddy says:

    We will never know.

  32. Big Raddy says:

    Going back a few years….

    Tony Adams, Paul Merson, David Rocastle, Micky Thomas, Martin Keown and David O’ Leary all came through the Youth Team.

    Different today with the influx of foreign talent into the youth teams

  33. Gooner In Exile says:

    Raddy that group came through together…..before that lot how many regularly came through? After that lot and before Cole no one was really good enough, except perhaps another Cole (Andy) who GG let go to Bristol!!

    I’d be interested in the number of ex – Arsensl youth playing in the PL compared to other PL teams…..Sidwell has forged a career for himself, Bentley to an extent did well before becoming a front bottom, Senderos and Larsson are two later imports who did ok when they left. None have gone on to be greats though and I guess if they did we would have serious questions to ask.

    I want us to bring through youth talent, I’d prefer it over buying in squad players, I’ve said as much before.

    For youngsters it’s all about the timing, is there a vacancy when they reach 18-21. Whoever has the shirt in their position could have it for another 7-8 seasons if they are unlucky. Any midfield player coming through now has to be better than what we have to justify keeping, that’s better than Ox, Jack, Santi, Ramsey, Arteta, Rosicky, and Cazorla. That’s a huge ask!

  34. cesc starting with no 10

  35. thanks for the post Raddy.
    It always pays off to invest in youth, even if only one Jack emerges from a dozen of Bentleys.

    Re TA – he was completely misquoted. He joked that if they were going to appoint just a figurehead, it might as well be him. He never claimed that he wants to be the next AFC chairman.

  36. GIE

    You ask… “before that lot how many regularly came through?”

    A handful of players that Bertie Mee inherited from Billy Wright’s youth policy. Then add the rest from Mee’s days… and the result?

    We won the Double in 1970-71.

    The following ten players, from the 17-man (only) squad, weren’t purchased. They came through ‘the ranks’.

    Rice, Nelson, Simpson, Storey, Kelly, Sammels, Armstrong, George, Radford, Kennedy.
    Wilson, also, wasn’t purchased, but didn’t come through the ranks, as such.

  37. That’s more than 50% of the squad!!

  38. Big Raddy says:

    Only England could have done that! Much like the Aussie slipping yesterday.

    Just seen Cesc miss an absolute sitter. He’s crap.

  39. Raddy, he is not crap, very unlucky not to have scored


    Thanks Raddy

    Our youth system is vital. Been a beliver in the mystical sciences and spiritual components that permeates all, our youth setup provides an esoterical link to the first team

    I truley believe that the Messiah will come from our youth side. Guys like Brady, Adams etc give the first team something that literaly money cant buy.

    We have that now with the emergence of Wilshere. These home grown players that break into the team give the side something extra, that is often the difference between winning things and been also rans.

    Am i talking bolloxs again?, probably, but i believe what i say.

  41. Gooner in Exile says:

    Big Al was a genuine question as twas before my time, most of the side that the late 80’s crop replaced was purchased.

    The game has unfortunately changed, if we were to have the possibility of wining leagues with local sides we would also have to accept some seasons could be mid table finishes

  42. Rasp says:

    We’ve had an email from TalkSport, they want one of our bloggers to be a guest on Andy Goldstein’s Sports Bar at 11:05 this evening …, any takers?

  43. MickyDidIt89 says:


    Send Sniffer 🙂

  44. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Following the Edward Snowdon story on RT
    Better than any movie

  45. Gooner in Exile says:

    Put Evonne on TS Rasp she will definitely put them straight 😀

  46. Rasp says:

    😆 I’ll take that as a no then

  47. MickyDidIt89 says:

    I vote Chas and if he is legless right now then I’d definately send him 🙂

  48. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Ant n’ Duck


  49. Rasp says:

    Maybe the troll would like to do the interview?

  50. MickyDidIt89 says:


    Kelsey will be up for his first wee any moment now.

    Send The Doomer as Option 2 🙂

    Im off to sleep. Give em hell Rasp 🙂

  51. weedonald says:

    I think you’re being too harsh on AFC and other Youth systems. Look at the French national system and La Masia where less than 5% of their graduates actually ever get to play at Barca or professionally, as the case may be. Here are the benefits I see for AFC’s academy approach:

    1) It allows us to bring in young players from other teams and countries and polish them up, without subjecting them to the EPL pressures and dangers right from the start.

    2) It permits us to develop our own players in a format and approach that is common to AFC teams while (youth,academy,reserve,first) at the same time ensuring that their is a certain homogeneity to AFC players development.

    3) Even if only 1-2 players make it to the first team in a 5 year cycle, it is well worth the expense….imho. At least we don’t have to go out and pay top dollar for someone who may not fit our style.

    4) Since player maturation and improvement is unpredictable at best, it is far better to have control over as many elements of that development as possible….an academy allows this. If George Best had been prepared in an academy, I am convinced he’d have avoided many of his behavioural and drinking issues that plagued him is later life.

    5) An academy allows the management team to continually assess the growth and potential of their charges in a climate that encourages fairness and collaboration. KIt also protects the academy players from abuse and unrealistic expectations that some teams encourage in order to win trophies or build up resale value. Remember , we are talking about adolescents here, not mature adults…and anyone who has a teenager at home knows they need protecting from themselves and others just like any other kids.

    6) It permits the parents of these kids to feel their child(ren) are being looked after and given a fair chance to make it professionally, while at the same time continuing their studies should their Football options fail. Far too many footballers have careers that falter and have nothing to fall back on….that is simply irresponsible and abusive. AFC don’t treat their players that way.

    There are many more arguments in favour of maintaining youth academies, and the least important is meeting FFFP or FAFP requirements!

  52. Gooner In Exile says:

    Donald all valid points, some are not just unique to Arsenal. (Like 6 that is necessity for all academies now. It wasn’t always the case.)

    I guess the problem with 1-2 players every 5 years is ok, but it depends on the cost of that. If the scheme costs £30m a year to run top to bottom then those players cost £75m each. We don’t pay that kind of money. Would we be better just spending money when we need new players.

    If it costs £5m a year then it’s £12.5m per player and its fine.

    Maybe one of the issues we have is being able to find good loan clubs that can help our youngsters get pitch time and therefore eventually come back as first team regulars. There are more teams beginning to get the ball down and play

  53. chas says:

    Second biggest idiot, first choice
    Biggest idiot, second choice.
    How does that work? 🙂

    I hope you told them to shove it so so far up where the sun don’t shine, Rasp.

  54. MickyDidIt89 says:


    Its precisely thst attitude that got you my vote 🙂

  55. Gooner In Exile says:

    Anyone bother listening to find out what topic was?

  56. mickydidit89 says:

    That’ll be a deafening No methinks GiE.

  57. chas says:

    Haha, perhaps not a good way to represent the blog, though.

    GIE, I had better things to do. 🙂

  58. mickydidit89 says:

    Wow, that’s about the first time I’ve ever managed to get my laptop working in a sodding hotel.

  59. chas says:

    The listen again for that show only goes up to 21st June so far, so we’ll have to wait a day or so until the shows from the weekend are processed.
    Can’t wait.

  60. chas says:

    Why’s that, Micky?
    WiFi or 3G?

  61. mickydidit89 says:


    Pink Panther Didit means wifi, whereas green space invader means gongle.

    Although, yesterdays green daytime space invaders were from mobile and wifi. In short, fuck knows.

  62. mickydidit89 says:

    In France WiFi is pronounced wiffy. Just saying 🙂
    They really are a pathetic lot 🙂

  63. mickydidit89 says:


    Now, don’t come over all clever on me, but I’m about to buy a new phone, and laptop and stuff (the tricky bit is I can’t remember being near a shop when it was actually open), but what is 4G?

    Really, one line answer 🙂

  64. mickydidit89 says:

    Right then,

    GiE and George have popped out for a fag, and Chas is down the gym with “that sort” of chap.


  65. chas says:

    4G is see and talk to the kids on your screen, Micky.

  66. chas says:

    I’m not sure what you’re implying, Micky.

    I went to see my “mates” on Friday, Sat and Sun, so today is a rest day.

    GIE and George out for a fag. 🙂

  67. chas says:

    What’s French for ‘fuck knows’?

  68. chas says:

    In the words of Lord Yeoman Michael DidItry of the Spa……
    “Really off now”

  69. Big Raddy says:

    Morning All,

    Taking a trip to UK today. 5 days of listening to my mother tongue and reading signs that make sense. Excited.

    It will be wiffy and the mobile for my AA fix.

  70. Hi looks like we have signed the Argie from Real Madrid in principle
    SOURCE sky sports news at 7.47am Swansea time
    Sheep hagger

  71. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Off on boody hols are we Daddy 🙂

    My cab driver smells

  72. Rasp – so nobody attended? Damn, we missed our chance to tell them what we think of their shitty show. On the other hand, to snub them is probably the most dignified way to state our views. All good then.

  73. Micky – what is your trade exactly? Sodding hotels, smelly cab drivers, small planes and fast trains. if you were with MI5 you wouldn’t be blogging about it. It has to be sex trade

  74. RockyLives says:

    Morning all.

    I put a Post in drafts yesterday so hopefully the cupboard is not entirely bare.

  75. for the tennis fans – Czech player ROSOL – his name means chicken soup 🙂

  76. RockyLives says:

    You should have gone on the radio! (Although you are more suited to being on the telly 🙂 )

  77. Morning all, you are right Mr Rock, FT is the most photogenic of us lot.

    I definitely have a face for radio and if I was around last night I would have been happy to have a rant at Talk Shite.

  78. and you Rocky are supposed to be on a family holidays not blogging!!! I hope that your wife will damp you 🙂

  79. no Chary, Peaches ALWAYS looks good, even straight out of bed

  80. RockyLives says:

    I hope she damps me 🙂

  81. ha ha ha 🙂 cat needs feeding, laters

  82. You and Peachy shoud do a joint TV spot FT – that would be a tip top bit of TV. 🙂

  83. RockyLives says:

    Anyone know how to publish a Post?

  84. I can do it if you want Mr Rock. Done it now, hope it’s the right one, laters..NEW POST.

  85. weedonald says:

    GIE….I replied with the intention of making this response somewhat generic for all youth academies, since most of what I said applies to any Club having a youth setup. I do question whether some clubs are serious about their academies and that was the reason for my last paragraph.

    Do we know how much the AFC academy actually costs each year and the per capita expenditure for players we end up keeping or moving on? Regardless, if we produce players like Coquelin,Frimpong, Wilshere etc….imho it is well worth the investment. I wonder how Southampton are able to produce such talent on a continuous basis? Walcott,Bale, the OX, etc. are top class….maybe we should buy Southampton and their academy management?
    I agree that the loan routine is a challenge as Wenger needs to find loan clubs that copy our style and approach a little.

    My real hope is that the FA and the EPL will finally authorize academy and reserve teams to play in lower divisions in the FA….like in Spain? I imagine that the arrangements would be feasible and a win-win situation for all concerned. Personally, I feel that AFC should purchase a 3rd or 4th division team and use it to blood all their reserve and promising youth players at that level.

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