The NPL Football Academy in conjunction with the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League is the first in English football to launch an FA sanctioned youth league combining football with further education.

An initial pilot programme that began in 2014/15 saw students aged 16-18 at five clubs – Leek Town, Mickleover Sports, Newcastle Town, Radcliffe Borough and Romulus – study for a BTEC in Sport at Level 2 and Level 3, accompanied by a bespoke football programme which involves working with UEFA licensed football coaches on a daily basis and competing in the NPL Football Academy League and national cup competitions led by the FA Youth Cup.

The programme runs alongside existing youth set-ups at participating clubs, offering the best of each year’s intake the chance to play academy and senior non-league football in the clubs main stadia at a level that has a fantastic reputationthroughout football.

The programme has expanded with 10 teams (9 clubs) taking part in the 2015/16 season across six footballing counties in Cheshire, Derbyshire, Greater Manchester, Staffordshire and the West Midlands and is on course to progress and expand to 18 teams (11 clubs) in 2016-2017 with further expansion being discussed for the September 2017 intake.

The NPL Football Academy has enrolled over 250 students since it’s inception in September 2014 and continues to grow each year.

Our Clubs

We are very proud to be leading the way again with the backing of the FA and the expertise of Eliteform in managing the programme. There are many academies and numerous youth leagues but the NPL Football Academy is the first to combine both at this level.”

The NPL Football Academy we feel will create a pool of player talent for clubs to draw upon and benefit from directly as well as offering young people a fantastic pathway into the sporting industry through the qualifications and the real experience our clubs will be delivering.

Not every student will go on to have a career as a player and together with greater community engagement for the clubs, they’ll also be playing a vital role in introducing the next generation of administrators and volunteers into sport and we hope, non-league football and in particular the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League”

Mark Harris

Evo-Stik NPL Chairman

Our area managers

Simon Birks

(Cheshire / Derbyshire / Staffordshire / West Midlands) | 07761720244




(Cheshire / Derbyshire / Greater Manchester) | 07850873132

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"It is an excellent idea to embrace the educational courses with a football programme in a full time capacity. The education courses are such an important part of this package and will enable the students to focus in all areas of sport whilst obtaining qualifications. The level and expertise of the NPL Football Academy league structure is also very important and the way forward linking football academies’ with semi-professional football clubs”

Paul Scholes

Manchester United & England Legend.


"Anything that combines education and sport for young people has to be applauded. Education is more important than ever in the modern world and physical fitness is so important for youngsters’ health and wellbeing. If, at the end of the course, an individual achieves further qualifications and gets the chance to move up to the first team - and that becomes a launch pad to even better things - then all well and good”

Joe Royle

Former Manchester City, Everton & Oldham Athletic Manager.


"The NPL was a big factor in helping me achieve my ambitions. Studying for a sports degree while playing at semi-professional level meant I could improve my education while developing as a player and this initiative can have the same impact."

Craig Dawson

West Bromwich Albion & former England U21 Player.


“Playing semi-professional football in the NPL gave me the opportunity to develop on and off the field, allowing me to play League football while pursuing academic interests that have lead me to a rewarding job in the Premier League. It is a wonderful opportunity, enabling young players to follow their dreams.”

Danny Donachie

Head of Medical at Everton Football Club.


"I played for 20 years in NPL and enjoyed a great career. This led me into a coaching role towards the end of my career and I became assistant manager gaining my qualifications on the way. I was then asked to coach in the women’s game and with Liverpool academy and I now coach at Everton academy and in the England U19 ladies squad and have forged a good career as a football coach thanks to the opportunities I got in the NPL."

Andy Johnston

Everton and England Women's Goalkeeper Coach.

  • Paul Scholes
  • Joe Royle
  • Craig Dawson
  • Danny Donachie
  • Andy Johnston