Further to yesterday's news concerning Yeovil Town's Centre of Excellence, a meeting held last night with parents of those enrolled on the scheme has confirmed that the CoE will not be running next season. The existing Under-18s side will be unaffected by this, and to our knowledge will continue as normal.
What this does mean is that the club will be operating using EPPP Category Four as far as the new youth academies are concerned, downsizing from what would have been a Category Three set-up. In place of the Centre of Excellence, comes an Elite Development Centre, which a number of smaller clubs such as Accrington Stanley, Morecambe, Oxford United and Farnborough Town have been using.
In the case of Accrington, they run theirs out of their Community Trust programme, and use them as a bridge between those attending one-off Soccer Schools and those formally enrolling into their Centre of Excellence programme. The Elite Development Centres are 'invite only' structured soccer schools where would-be attendees initially attend trials, resulting in the club concerned giving an offer to the best trialists to enrol in a fixed length programme.
In the case of Accrington, they run six or seven week programmes, which include matches against other Elite opposition, and where joiners pay a £25/£30 subscription for the length of the course. Players are not contracted, and thus are free to head elsewhere, although inevitably that then may mean that future invitations are handed over to other players instead. Further information on how Accrington structure such things can be found here.
As far as Yeovil Town are concerned, the expectation is that the Elite Development Centre will train once a week and that there will be competitive matches against other Elite set-ups during the school holidays, with up to ten per season. Some clubs such as Morecambe, run their Centres from multiple locations, although the impression from last night was that Yeovil's will run from the town itself - presumably in locations like Alvington.
The end goal will be the same; to provide players who can be co-opted into the Under-18s side at the age of sixteen. The obvious disadvantages to this route is that to our knowledge there is no grant provided for such centres, and so they have to be financed through central fund-raising and individual course enrolment fees. The other disadvantage is that if one player turns out to be particularly talented, and they've yet to reach 16 years old, there is little that can be done to prevent them from joining another club's Centre of Excellence.
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