Football clubs rely on their academies to produce talented youngsters, either for their first team squad or as a source of income.

Whilst the second instance may seem a little mercenary in its outlook, it is often the case of being for lower league clubs. Not only does it generate income streams that are sorely needed for said clubs, it also allows them to reinvest this cash in finding the right players to improve their situation.

Some academies are more productive than others when it comes to producing this conveyor belt of talent that hit the first team, or go beyond and play elsewhere – be this up or down the league structure.

This article is looking at the top 10 most productive academy set-ups for clubs in the Football League at this moment – their overall ranking also includes all the Premier League clubs as well.

What’s the criteria of the ranking? It’s a very simple one really – how many players generated by the academies of each team played a league match in the top five divisions of English football in 2016/17? In other words, how many players from team X played a league game in either the Premier League, Championship, League One, League Two and National League – the overall ranking also includes players from Club X in academies elsewhere, but I have dispensed with that for simplicity’s sake.

Top 10 Football League academies – arranged by overall rating

A little bit of context first – the top 5 academies are Premier League sides: Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Everton. Manchester City might be storming this season’s Premier League but they rank only 14th and Premier League strugglers Swansea City rank 85 of the 86 academies.

1. Crewe Alexandra

The Railwaymens’ Category 2 academy is the most successful of the Football League academies with 36 of their academy graduates featuring in league games in 2016/17. This representation was across the following divisions: Premier League (2), Championship (4), League One (6), League Two (17), National League (7). When looking at overall rank (including academy graduates now in other academy set-ups) they rank one place lower than Liverpool’s Category 1 academy. The Railwaymen come in 9th when you take into account players in other team’s academies when Crewe’s overall total (39) is considered against Liverpool’s (42).

2. Middlesbrough

Boro’s Category 1 academy is the next most successful of the Football League academies with 32 of their academy graduates featuring in league games in 2016/17. This representation was across the following divisions: Premier League (3), Championship (7), League One (10), League Two (7), National League (5). When looking at overall rank (including academy graduates now in other academy set-ups) they rank one place higher than Southampton’s Category 1 academy. Middlesbrough come in 10th when you take into account players in other team’s academies when Boro’s overall total (37) is considered against Southampton’s (37) – players playing a league match being the tie-breaker.

3. Charlton Athletic 

The Addicks’ Category 2 academy is the next most successful of the Football League academies with 30 of their academy graduates featuring in league games in 2016/17. This representation was across the following divisions: Premier League (2), Championship (6), League One (13), League Two (1), National League (8). When looking at overall rank (including academy graduates now in other academy set-ups) they rank one place higher than Liverpool’s Category 1 academy. The Addicks come in 7th when you take into account players in other team’s academies when Charlton’s overall total (44) is considered against Liverpool’s (42).

4. Leeds United

The Whites’ Category 2 academy is the fourth most successful of the Football League academies with 29 of their academy graduates featuring in league games in 2016/17. This representation was across the following divisions: Premier League (7), Championship (7), League One (5), League Two (3), National League (7). When looking at overall rank (including academy graduates now in other academy set-ups) they rank two places higher than Manchester City’s £200m Category 1 academy. The Whites come in 12th when you take into account players in other team’s academies when their overall total (36) is considered against City’s (35). One point worth mentioning is that Leeds United’s academy has produced the most graduates of any Football League side to play in last season’s Premier League (7), ranking joint-fourth in this category behind Manchester United (17), Spurs (12) and Southampton (11).

5. Aston Villa

Villa’s Category 1 academy is the next most successful of the Football League academies with 27 of their academy graduates featuring in league games in 2016/17. This representation was across the following divisions: Premier League (3), Championship (15), League One (2), League Two (4), National League (3). When looking at overall rank (including academy graduates now in other academy set-ups) they rank one place higher than Southampton’s Category 1 academy. Middlesbrough come in 10th when you take into account players in other team’s academies when Boro’s overall total (37) is considered against Southampton’s (37) – players playing a league match being the tie-breaker.

 

Here’s a link to the full list of Academies mentioned in this article – click here for a link to DropBox

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About Author

Cynicism turned to optimism but without the woop woops and ringing bells. Leeds United supporter through thick and thin, more thin than anything recently. Write mainly about the Whites but turn my hand to other clubs. Lover of salted crisp sandwiches. Not a hipster.

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