Academy Manager Jon Pepper leaves Burnley after five years

Pepper has been with Burnley since 2016 (Photo credit Josh Schneider-Weiler)

Pepper has been with Burnley since 2016 (Photo credit Josh Schneider-Weiler)

BURNLEY Academy Manager Jon Pepper, who led the Clarets from Category Three to One, is leaving the club after five years.

An email was sent to staff informing them of the news at the end of last week, stating that Pepper was leaving for a new challenge.

However, TGG understands that owners ALK Capital, who took over on December 31st last year, were the instigators, as they want to take the Academy in a new direction and install their own Academy boss.

The club are yet to announce a replacement, but Paul Jenkins will be a front-runner. The Uefa Pro Licence coach, who worked for Middlesbrough for more than 20 years, as their U21s, U23s and first-team coach, has been advising ALK in recent months and is a regular visitor to the Barnfield Training Centre.

Pepper, a former Nottingham Forest youth coach and Bradford City Academy Manager, leaves having overseen a remarkable transformation. When he arrived in September 2016, from auditors Double Pass, where he was EPPP England Project Manager, Burnley had a Category Three Academy.

They had 14 full-time Academy staff, dilapidated buildings and were playing the lesser lights of youth football. Now they are Category One, with more than 30 staff, state-of-the-art facilities and were playing Leeds United, Aston Villa and Wolves in Premier League 2 last season.

Much of that, of course, has been down to manager Sean Dyche - who pushed for the club's 2014/15 Premier League money to be diverted into infrastructure rather than frittered away on transfer fees and wages - as well as the club's previous owners. However, Pepper oversaw the Academy rebuild and managed day-to-day operations.

There has also been improved productivity recently, with Dwight McNeil, the £30m-rated attacking midfielder who arrived at Burnley at the age of 15, the standard bearer. Lewis Richardson, Josh Benson and Jimmy Dunne have also made Premier League debuts last season.

Pepper featured in Episode #2 of the TGG Podcast, when we visited Burnley's Academy. You can listen below.

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