What a very weird rule

But Ferguson, a long-time critic of the academy system, insists that the changes cannot come quickly enough for English teams.

“We are only allowed to coach [schoolboys] for an hour and a half [each week].

An hour and a half each week?

Academy regulations state that young players can receive no more than 3,760 ‘contact time’ hours on the training pitch up to the age of 21.


Yer average public schoolboy will have 4-6 hours of sport a week.

Anyone know why this academy limit is so ludicrously low?

8 thoughts on “What a very weird rule”

  1. No idea, sound stupid to me, but moving on to important football matters, Athletic Bilbao, the only first division club in Europe that does not sign foreigners and plays with local or academy players is back in Europe next year.

    OK, we are not Barcelona, but hey, we’ll have fun.

  2. Watford FC opened the Harefield Academy, which is now recognised as one of the best in Europe. The school is for gifted sports children who are given places and the national curriculum designed around their chosen sport. In the case of the footballers, the players get more than the 21 hours a week that is seen as the start of the optimum zone.

    Next season the players that started at age 11 will come through – already those with less years are much better than their counterparts at other clubs.

  3. Sorry Tim, to answer your question, it is because the clubs have to give training without interferring with schooling, which means that effectively that after school / weekends are the only time available, and as they also have to take into account commuting etc, suddenly there is a ‘welfare’ issue, hence the heavy restriction.

    And hence why WFC built the Academy.

  4. The Academy regs do have some oddities in them, but something doesn’t seem to add up from those numbers.

    I assume that for under-16s – what I’d term ‘schoolboys’ – that the regs have to fall in line with the law on minors working, the no paper-rounds before 8:00am stuff or whatever it is, in which case the 1.5 hours per week seems vaguely familiar.

    But 1.5 hours per week by 52 gives 78 hours pa, so even if a lad signed at 11, the ten years until he’d be 21, would mean only 780 hours total coaching, not far off 3,000 hours short of the quoted numbers. I’d have to assume that the coaching hours per week increase at different ages. Or that I’m being stupid. Or that Mark Ogden got something wrong.

    Also, I seem to recall that the Barcelona academy includes schooling and education ‘on-site’ as it were, not just football coaching.

  5. Peter MacFarlane

    Good grief.

    When I played U11 ice hockey back in the early sixties, we had about EIGHT hours training a week (two two-hour on-ice sessions, one two-hour off-ice session, and two one-hour skating skills sessions, the latter of which started at 063o in the morning).

    Plus the games, of course, which were mostly (but not all) at weekends.

    Did it interfere with our schooling? Did it heck.

    Nation of wimps.

  6. Bilbao boy said “… Athletic Bilbao, the only first division club in Europe that does not sign foreigners …”

    Sounds like a restriction on free movement to me. Don’t worry, the EU will soon force them to take a quota of Romanians.

  7. Tim, this is completely beyond my experience, but pure speculation. You say:

    Yer average public schoolboy will have 4-6 hours of sport a week.

    Out of how long a school day?

    State school day is 9am till 3.30pm standard, including about 1.5hrs ‘break’. Too much sports during that time means less time for the other stuff that we want kids to be learning.

    Public shools have longer hours? Also, they tend to be boarding schools (I know not all are, but many are). In a boarding school, you can have the standard school day with lots of contact and non-contact academic learning time, but still need to fill up evenings and weekends, so there’s a lot more time for sports.

    Normal state schools don’t have the hours in the day for that much sport–but a lot of local kids are also members of local clubs and stuff–but that’s organised by parents and local teams.

    I’ve no idea what limits state schools have, or what limits local clubs might have, but making sure out of school/after school stuff doesn’t impact on the “important” stuff in school? That makes sense–some might think that football skills are more important than maths, that’s not my opinion 😉

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