Bournemouth and Fleetwood promoted to Category Two

Fleetwood opened their Air Dome earlier this summer

Fleetwood opened their Air Dome earlier this summer

BOURNEMOUTH and Fleetwood Town have been promoted to Category Two Academy status from next season.

Facilities have been key for both clubs, because Category Two teams must have an indoor dome and neither previously had one. Fleetwood opened their ‘Air Dome’ earlier this summer and it houses an artificial grass seven-a-side pitch (60mx40m), gym and sprint track.

The metal frame for Bournemouth’s dome has been constructed and is part of the first phase of Bournemouth's new training complex at Canford Magna, which is due for completion by October/ November this year. Phase one also includes an outside 3G artificial pitch and temporary Academy offices and will ensure that the club is Category Two compliant.

The Professional Game Academy Audit Company (PGAAC) carried out a four-day audit of each club earlier this year, which was overseen by six auditors. PGAAC's recommendation for the clubs to be promoted to Category Two status was then ratified by the Professional Game Board last month.

Bournemouth Chief Executive Neill Blake said: “This exciting development is the latest positive step for us, with (owner) Bill (Foley) continuing his plans to invest in and develop all aspects of the football club.

“Lots of hard work has been put into achieving Category Two status from staff in the academy and across the club, and is an example of what we are striving to achieve here. Following the integration of our women’s team, this is another crucial step for us in growing every area of AFC Bournemouth.

“We can now look ahead to continued success and development for the Academy and the whole club.”

Academy Manager Sam Gisborne added: “This is great news for the Academy and the whole club. We are really looking forward to taking this next step. I’d just like to say a massive thank you to all academy staff, past and present, for their hard work.”

Fleetwood Town have one of the newest Academies in the EPPP system, having entered at Category Four level in 2013 before being promoted to Category Three in 2016/17.

Their Academy Manager Jack Higgins said: “We are absolutely delighted to have received confirmation of our Category Two status. This represents years of hard work from our dedicated staff and really highlights the rapid progression we have made since first establishing our Academy in 2016 – this shouldn’t be underestimated.

“In that time, we have developed countless players and staff now registered with Premier League and Football League clubs across England. We are becoming renowned for providing opportunities here at Fleetwood Town and convinced progressing to Category Two will only help us further in developing the best young talent – we are really excited at what lies ahead.”

Chairman and Chief Executive Steve Curwood added: “This is a fantastic boost for the club and the culmination of a significant amount of work by many people over many years.

“The Academy has been really building year on year since Poolfoot Farm opened back in 2016, and to finally achieve the new status is remarkable given where the club was not too long ago.

“The Academy is many things, but importantly for a club like Fleetwood, it must be a core component in working towards sustainability whilst at the same time ensuring that sporting success can still be enjoyed.

“The club finished in a very credible league position last season with close to 25% of the appearances coming from Academy graduates. This was only 2% in 2018/2019.”

This has otherwise been a difficult few weeks for the League One club, with owner Andy Pilley having been sentenced to 13 years in prison last week for a multi-million pound fraud.

Meanwhile, Salford City have been promoted to Category Three. This means they will now operate teams from Under-9s through to U18s.

Salford opened their Academy in 2017 for U17s and U18s on a two-year scholarship. Today’s news marks a big change from 2020, when the club said they were scrapping their Category Four Academy and instead launching a B team.

“This is fantastic news that the Academy has been awarded Category Three status, and firstly congratulations go to all of the staff who have put so much time and effort into the process.

“We have had some success already with the Academy in terms of players progressing into senior football whether at Salford or elsewhere, and we hope to make that a more regular achievement.

“Growing the Academy down to U9s will allow us to instil the club’s philosophy into players at a younger age, providing them with top class coaching and cultivating a team spirit from a young age that we hope will grow as players and teams progress through the age groups.”

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