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Measuring player development outputs in European football clubs (2005-2006 to 2015-2016)

Steve Bullough (Sport Industry Research Centre, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, UK)
Richard Coleman (Sport Industry Research Centre, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, UK)

Team Performance Management

ISSN: 1352-7592

Article publication date: 19 June 2019

Issue publication date: 5 August 2019




The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) legislative intervention around “home-grown” player quotas came into effect for the 2006-2007 season, aiming to protect playing opportunities and the development of indigenous talent. Previous research has identified clear differences between clubs and club types regarding opportunities for academy players. This paper aims to examine the outputs from six European leagues (France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Spain and England), identifying differences between national associations, club type, and on an individual club level. The paper investigates different league structure (in terms of allowing reserve teams in the professional leagues) and assesses UEFAs legislation in relation to programme theory (expected outcomes).


The study is based on playing data from 200 clubs and 3,329 indigenous players making their debut in one of the six leagues since 2006, and includes ten seasons of competition to 2015-2016.


The number of players produced and playing opportunities offered since 2006 are more prominent in the Spanish, The Netherlands, French and German leagues compared to Italy and England. For those clubs competing in all ten seasons, a similar pattern emerges with those four nations producing greater outputs. Four clubs significantly outperform others in terms of producing players reaching any top-six league first team, and for their own academy graduates. Additionally, the four leagues allowing reserve teams in their professional structure have a higher level of “output” for their academy players.


The paper discusses issues in the design of the legislation (not making nationality a factor and being unable to control other dominant variables) as key weaknesses to influencing change, and achieve the rationale cited by UEFA for its introduction.



Bullough, S. and Coleman, R. (2019), "Measuring player development outputs in European football clubs (2005-2006 to 2015-2016)", Team Performance Management, Vol. 25 No. 3/4, pp. 192-211.



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