By Peter Evans - The Football Stage MD

Even the Chairman of West Ham has recognised that the opportunities for young players playing in the first team are limited at a Premier league club. David Gold has given a frank assessment and he’s not wrong. We look at the difficulties ahead for young football players looking to make it to the top of the English Premier League.

So clearly the path to playing first team football is harder than ever. But why is that? I think David Gold is hinting at the ever more need for success for clubs and looking to as he puts it “seasoned internationals”. These are players with more experience but carrying a heavier price tag. It’s an investment that clubs are willing to take for success. More importantly, they are now able to invest at a higher level. The income from the Premier League has increased significantly over the last few years. The prize for being a premier league club is huge! Clubs are able to compete further in the transfer market in order to bring success to their club. It seems that the gap between the top and middle clubs has reduced. Clubs like Bournemouth, West Brom and Swansea can go out and buy a player for £15m now. Go back 4 years and this was unheard of! Football has changed. Buying power has changed. The relentless appetite for success from club owners has increased even further with a knock on effect ultimately effecting aspiring young players.

Take a look at some of the names who went on to play for the first team after coming through the youth ranks at the top 6 clubs from the current standing in the premier league. Ryan Giggs Manchester United (17), John Terry Chelsea (17), Michael Owen Liverpool (18), Jack Wilshere (16) Arsenal, Harry Kane (18) Tottenham Hotspur, Daniel Sturridge (17) Manchester City. These are great players and household names. They were given a chance at a young age, given the confidence to go and play and express themselves as teenagers. There are many others we could mention and not just in the premier league. They played in teams with seasoned professionals giving balance of youth and experience. I’m not saying it’s the recipe for trophies but shouldn’t there be a balance of giving players a chance along with the drive and manifesto to succeed?

With buying power comes increased competition for young players trying to break through. The path to playing first team football is filled with more obstacles. The pressure on a manager now is through the roof. You only have to look at the ruthless nature in which managers are sacked and replaced to bring success. It’s a result driven game. Not just the premier league but the championship too. Time is a luxury that managers and now players cannot afford. So what’s the solution for a young player? Don’t sign for a big club? Be a big fish in a smaller pond? Practice longer, train harder? Push to go out on loan? There isn’t one solution but there are certainly many obstacles. Over 95% of players fail to make it in the first team and 4 out of 5 players stop playing football altogether by the age of 24. This is why The Football Stage exists. With the increased number of players signed to academies there is in existance a growing trend and ongoing competition for players. The Football Stage will allow players to showcase themselves so that they are constantly seen by clubs around the world increasing their chance of not only becoming a professional but maintain that highly desirable status. Why post for fun when you can also post for success! If the obstacles are too great to make it at your club, there are many others who can appreciate your talents. Not a one off game at the end of the season. A true insight into years of players videos posted on The Football Stage platform showing every aspect of playing and training.

It’s truly a privilege to play professional football. I loved my time at Millwall and Charlton and learnt from some great coaches, managers and players. The bond and banter between players is unrivalled in this industry. Just ask the likes of Rio Ferdinand of his banter with former colleagues if you don’t believe me. Ask Alan Shearer, Ian Wright, Gary Lineker. Team work is an underrated characteristic needed in not only football but many industries. Football teaches teamwork, sacrifice and determination. Youth needs more resilience. It’s hard work making it to the top. If it was easy there would be no Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi. It’s going to be tough so give yourself and advantage and equip yourselves with all the tools to make it to the top. It’s time to lace up. In an ever competitive game, can you afford not to?