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New research shows investment in youth training academies is at risk because teams prefer to speculate on the transfer market, according to FIFPro General Secretary Theo van Seggelen.

The respected CIES Football Observatory in Neuchatel, Switzerland has published a report that says the ratio of players in the squads of 460 European clubs that graduated from their academy has fallen to a record low of 19.7 per cent.


It’s the fourth annual decline in five years. It has decreased from 23.1 per cent in 2009.

CIES defines club-trained players as those who spent three years at the team that currently employs them between age 15 and 21.

The new data suggests clubs prefer to spend on transfer fees than invest in their own academies, Seggelen said.

Fewest club-trained players 
Turkey 8.3 %
Italy 8.6 %
Greece 10.7 %
Portugal 11.1 %
Cyprus 11.5 %
England 11.7 %
Belgium 11.8 %
Germany  13.3 % 
Romania     14.5%
Russia 15.7 %

“Youth academies are going to become obsolete at this rate,’’ Van Seggelen said. “We need a rethink: we need a model where clubs have a real incentive to develop young players.”

In only one country surveyed – Belarus – did the number of home-grown players make up more than a third of squads, the report says. In Italy and Turkey less than 9 per cent of squads were made up of club-trained players.

FIFPro in September filed a complaint to the European Commission against the transfers system, which it says is anti-competitive.

The Commission and FIFA last made adjustments to player transfer rules in 2001 with five main objectives: contract stability, solidarity, competitive balance, integrity and stability of competitions and the training of young players.

“This new report clearly underlines that the transfer system fails one of its five objectives, the training of young players,” Van Seggelen said.

FIFPro is challenging the rules 20 years after it helped Belgian player Jean-Marc Bosman successfully overturn a regulation which had allowed clubs to demand fees to release out-of-contract players.