Academy progress

Argyle Academy Rises in Productivity Rankings

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The latest edition of Training Ground Guru’s set of Academy Productivity Rankings has shown a marked improvement for Argyle in all areas.

Founded by Simon Austin in 2017, Training Ground Guru is a company that collates information about male players who are eligible to represent the England national team, and who have played in at least one match for any team in the top five divisions of English football.

These players are then graded by the level at which they have played, and points awarded to the Academies, Centres of Excellence or similar structure which have played a part in producing the player.

Argyle are placed number 31 in the overall rankings, with a weighted score of 49 points. For context Chelsea, who top the list, have a score of 168.04; Liverpool, in 10th, have 91.46; Grimsby, 80th, have 3.82.

These numbers echo a recent EFL Annual Report in which the Argyle Academy’s productivity was praised.

When taking into account the six seasons from 2015/16 to 2020/21, Argyle ranked 61st out of 92 clubs on a metric which considers debuts, appearances and minutes played by graduates.

However, when isolated to the three-year period from 2018/19 to 2020/21, Argyle place 32nd, and once figures are taken into account for last season and the current one, the continued presence in Argyle’s first team of Mike Cooper and Adam Randell; the considerable involvement of Luke Jephcott and Ryan Law; and the emergence of numerous young players in Papa Johns Trophy action and on Sky Bet League One team-sheets, will likely mean our position will continue to significantly rise.

Among the Argyle Academy’s aims are to include a minimum of four Academy graduates on each first-team team-sheet. In the 2021/22 season, the average was 4.96, up from 3.85 the previous season. Academy graduates played 11,486 minutes during the season, compared with 9,303 the season before.

All of the figures go alongside the visible success of the Academy, with last season’s Under-18 side having won the Merit League, and this year’s crop off to an excellent start in the Youth Alliance League, as well as the quality performances and contributions made by individuals at a higher level. 

Academy Manager Phil Stokes said: “I am delighted to see figures from two independent reports back up what we know: that our Academy is progressing very well and is attaining our main aim of producing and developing quality young footballers.

“At the heart of what we do is developing the pathway available to our young players, meaning that their aim of becoming a professional footballer who contributes to the first team of Plymouth Argyle is a realistic one.

“A big thank you to all of our staff, both coaches and those working across all departments of the Academy, for their hard work to enable us to keep improving our performance. It’s a team effort!

“Our manager, Steven Schumacher, and his coaching staff are extremely supportive, particularly Kevin Nancekivell.  Kevin plays a vital role in ensuring that players graduating through the Academy continue to be nurtured and looked after - this is all part of our football strategy designed by Neil Dewsnip, our Director of Football.

“Many of the young footballers you are seeing represent Argyle at first-team level have been with the football club since they were eight, nine or ten years old. Their appearances for the first team are often the fruits of a decade or more of work by our coaches, and by the players and their families.

“We are already looking forward to seeing next year’s figures, which will undoubtedly see yet another step forward as we strive to make the Argyle Academy the very best it can be for player development.”

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