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Measures of academy productivity in English championship clubs

Victor Balassiano (Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, UK)
Steve Bullough (Sport Industry Research Centre, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, UK)

Team Performance Management

ISSN: 1352-7592

Article publication date: 6 May 2021

Issue publication date: 8 June 2021




This study quantifies academy productivity within English football clubs that have competed in the second tier (Championship) between 2017 and 2020. Previous research has outlined that clubs situated underneath the top leagues have an important role in the development of elite professional players. This study aims to examine that level of the pathway further in England.


The utilisation of academy players was conducted with data from 33 eligible clubs, from 2017/2018 to 2019/2020. Two measures of productivity are defined for comparison: “Utilisation” (the total minutes played by academy graduates) and “Starts” (the number of times an academy player started for the first team). To quantify these measures, players and clubs’ indices were also defined through two perspectives: “global” (proportion of all games played from 2017/2018 to 2019/2020) and “local” (proportion of games the player featured only). Nationality and position were also included.


Headline findings demonstrate large differences between clubs for the type and proportion of playing opportunities created. The data outlines that academy graduates have greater utilisation and starts in cup competitions, particularly the English Football League cup. Clubs in the sample being relegated from the Premier League into the Championship recorded weaker “utilisation” and “starts” compared to those that competed in the lower divisions. Academies are producing and using a greater proportion of defensive players (goalkeepers, defenders, defensive midfielders) compared to more attacking sectors of the pitch.


This offers useful insight for academy managers, allowing comparisons between clubs. It has implications for future strategies around the role of the academy and approaches to generating player opportunity.



Balassiano, V. and Bullough, S. (2021), "Measures of academy productivity in English championship clubs", Team Performance Management, Vol. 27 No. 3/4, pp. 332-350.



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