Do Football Academy Players Get Paid in the UK?

Sylvia Kiragu

Football clubs in the UK are famous for paying their players ridiculously large salaries, with top earners taking home several hundred thousand pounds a month.

To maintain their financial standing and long-term viability, many football clubs have created academies to nurture young talent.

These young players are also known as academy players. But do football academy players get paid in the UK?

While they are not likely to become top earners soon, academy players get compensated for the time and effort they put into training. 

Below is everything you need to know about these players’ wages. 

How Much Do Academy Players Get Paid in the UK? 

Academy players are paid based on factors such as age, club, and level of talent. However, not all academy players are paid due to the stringent rules regarding the compensation of youth players. 

In the UK, football academies can recruit players as young as seven years. However, these players can’t be paid until they sign a scholarship contract with the club academy, which can only happen at the age of 15 years.

That said, clubs can offer financial incentives, for example, financial help to the parents to help with travel expenses and schooling. 

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Once the academy players reach age 15, they can start earning from their club academy. They get paid £165 a week during their first years as scholars and £175 a week in their second year. 

Manchester United U16 Academy Players. Image: Facebook/ Manchester United

At 16, they can sign a professional contract and start playing for the first team. At this point, their salaries can increase significantly depending on their age, talent, and the club they are playing for. 

Besides the regular earnings, academy players in the UK can also get compensation when leaving a club based on the time they have spent there. The compensation, which is part of the Premier League’s Elite Performance Plan, is as follows: 

  • £3,000 per year for players ages 9 to 11 
  • £12,500 to £40,000 for ages 12 to 16. 
  • Players can also earn between £5,000 and £1,300,000 depending on their appearances for the first team. 

How Often Are Academy Players Paid? 

Having established that academy players get paid, the next question would be, “Do football academy players get paid per month?”

Most UK academies quote their youth players’ salaries weekly, which is the norm with first-team players.

However, the more likely scenario is that they are paid once a month. 

How Much Do Academies Pay Their Players in the UK? 

As mentioned, salaries for academy players vary greatly depending on the club. Below is a look at some top UK clubs and how much they pay their youth players.

1. Arsenal

Arsenal is one of the top football clubs in the UK based on trophies, history, and performance.

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Academy players at Arsenal’s Hale End are paid based on their age group and contract status but the range is generally between £60 – £5,900 weekly.

2. Manchester United

Manchester United is another top Premier League club that operates a football academy in the UK. Youth players earn between £60 and £10,000 a week.

Currently, the £10,000-week salary is for Kobbie Maino, an 18-year-old who has already played for the first team, making him one of the highest-paid academy players in the UK.

3. Manchester City

Manchester City is another Premier League team with a thriving academy. Youth players earn between £60 and £6,800 a week.

However, young players who have recently joined the first team earn as much as £25,000 a week.

4. Liverpool

Liverpool FC has an academy wage cap of £40K a year. As a result, academy players earn between £60 and £760 per week.

However, more experienced youth players earn up to £7,600 per week.

5. Chelsea

According to 2023 figures, Chelsea FC youth players earn between £60 and £8,100 weekly.

However, in the past, the premier league club has been known to pay its youngsters up to £20,000 a week.  

6. Tottenham Hotspurs

Tottenham Hotspurs under-18 academy players earn between £60 and £600 weekly.

Other youth players earn up to £4,100 a week, with top talent, like 18-year-old Ashley Philips, who plays for the under-21 academy team, earning £23,000 per week. 

Do Academy Players go to School? 

UK football academies are either full board (where players live full-time at the academy grounds) or day camps (where players live at home but attend regular training sessions).

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Regardless of which type of academy a player joins, they are still expected to continue with their academic studies.

For example, at Arsenal’s Hale End Academy, youth players train full-time while studying for their A-levels or BTech courses. 

How Many Academy Players Make it Pro?

International Soccer Academy Players
International Soccer Academy Youth Players. Image: Facebook/ISA

Professional football is very competitive, and not everyone in football academies gets the chance to turn pro.

Currently, less than 3% of academy players get an opportunity to play for premier league clubs. In some academies, as few as 0.5% of players get a professional contract to play for the first team. 

Most youth players who don’t qualify to play for their club teams join lower league teams, while the rest are released.

Several of the released players have reported experiencing mental health problems, with some going as far as committing suicide. 

Is It Good To Be in a Football Academy?

Academy football is competitive and calls for dedication and unflinching hard work.

However, one cannot overlook the benefits of joining a football academy, including professional training, mentorship, improved technical and social skills, and a chance to play in the club’s first team. 

Several young players have gone on to have lucrative careers playing for top clubs worldwide.

A good example is Bukayo Saka, an Arsenal Academy graduate and now one of the highest-paid Arsenal first-team players with a weekly salary of £250,000 at only 22 years old. 

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