Blackburn vow to keep Category One Academy status

Blackburn's Academy is based at Brockhall Village

Blackburn's Academy is based at Brockhall Village

BLACKBURN ROVERS are confident of retaining their status as a Category One Academy, despite being relegated to League One.

Rovers are one of just 24 clubs in the country to have attained the gold-level standard. Academies are classified as part of the Premier League's Elite Player Performance Plan, which ranks Academies according to factors including their facilities, IT and analysis, spending, staffing and coaching. You can read the full detail here.

There are different requirements for three age groups - foundation (under-fives to under-11s), youth development (U12s to 16s) and pro development (U17s to U21s). Rovers were awarded Category One status in July 2013 and held onto it when they were last audited in July 2016.

“It’s not about where your first-team is, it’s how you run your Academy and you run it to the level that Category One states," Eric Kinder, Head of Academy at Rovers, told the Lancashire Telegraph.

“The one thing I will say is there’s not many League One or League Two clubs can subsidise the minimum spend (of around £2.5m) to run a Category One club so we have to be thankful for that and the owners have said we must remain that. We’re proud to be a Category One club. We’ve worked ever so hard to achieve it.

“We achieved it before I got this job and we maintained it which was a massive well done to all the staff to retain it. If you look at the teams we’re competing against it’s a terrific achievement.

“We went through the action points that we got after our last audit, we achieved them, and will be Category One until that next audit comes around in two years’ time.”

Rovers finished sixth in Premier League 2 Division 2 last season. The new Under-23 league features the best 24 Academy sides in the country, split into two divisions.

“On the pitch, if you look at our results, then we are competing against the best teams in the country," Kinder added. “The Academy has always been important. Whether we were Premier League champions or in League One, the Academy has to flourish.

“It might be harder to recruit players now, simply because of where the first-team is, which is a shame, but we have a terrific reputation.

“We have a pathway here that we can get them through. We’re coming under increasing pressure for our younger players because they think our players are easy picking because the first-team is in League One.

“But we’re a Category One club, the same as them, and where they might be able to offer money and long-term contracts we can offer a pathway right the way through to the first-team.

“Can we compete with Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea? In the EPPP world probably not because for me you are judged on how many dressing rooms you have got, how many buildings you have got, and how good your indoor centre is."

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