YOUTH team boss Terry Pashley admits he is frustrated at the Elite Player Performance Plan holding his players back.
Last season Pashley guided Burnley to the semi-finals of the FA Youth Cup - beating Academy set ups in Ipswich, West Brom and Fulham along the way - and final of the LFA Youth Cup.
And this term his young charges stunned Manchester United at Old Trafford in the FA Youth Cup, before bowing out after a brave effort against Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium.
However, while clearly proving they can compete at that standard over a sustained period of time, in the bread and butter of Football League Youth Alliance League games, Burnley take on the likes of Accrington Stanley, Fleetwood Town, Wrexham, Preston North End, Blackpool, Oldham Athletic, Carlisle United, Rochdale, Shrewsbury Town, Macclesfield Town, Walsall, Morecambe and Tranmere Rovers.
Pashley would love to give his players the experience of playing against the Citys and Uniteds every week, but as Burnley are only rated at category three of the EPPP - a scheme initiated by the Premier League in October 2011 - that is a long way away.
All clubs have been audited, given category status of one to four, with one being the most elite, taking into account the likes of productivity rates, coaching provisions, quality of facilities and education and welfare provisions.
The higher a club’s category, the more central funding it will receive, with a budget of up to £300m over the next four seasons.
Burnley pitched for category three, which concerned a number of supporters with the next audit not until 2016.
Certain factors will have to change to upgrade, the main problem being that the 3G indoor facility at Turf Moor is not big enough in terms of dimensions.
It leaves Burnley trailing behind most of the Championship, never mind the Premier League, while the likes of Crewe and Brentford are also better off, with category two status.
Pashley, who has helped develop the likes of Paul Weller, Chris Brass, Paul Smith, Richard Chaplow, Kyle Lafferty, Chris McCann, Jay Rodriguez and Cameron Howieson, feels Burnley are missing out, and is incredulous that the size of an indoor pitch is one of the reasons: “There are a couple of areas (holding us back) I think.
“I know the indoor area is one, for the dimensions of it.
“Why should the dimensions of an indoor area stop you playing?
“‘You can’t do this because you haven’t got that?’.
“It’s what you do on the football pitch that matters.
“I get a bit baffled by decisions like that.
“At the end of it, does it not mean that we’re not good enough as a football club, with our kids, to go and compete?
“I think we are.
“So why should the dimensions of one building stop us doing that?
“Football hasn’t changed.
“Football clubs are about players and games and what people do out on the grass - not, for me, about how big a building is.”
Category one clubs play against category two, and Pashley wants to test his players against a higher standard on a more regular basis.
After the 2-0 defeat at City - a side which cost £5m in transfer fees - he mused: “The one disappointment is that we can only come up against these teams in the cups.
“From the club’s point of view, that’s a little bit disappointing for me.
“But we are where we are, I don’t worry about things I can’t really control.
“But it would be nice to test the boys against this type of opposition week in, week out, and I’m sure the boys would improve so much quicker.
“I think to play at that level we would have to be pushing for category two and above.
“That’s out of my control, that’s the club’s decision where we play and what we do. That’s nothing to do with me. From a personal point of view and a football point of view, I would love it if we could turn out against the Premier League clubs every week.”