Burnley Academy promoted to Category One
Written by Training Ground Guru — July 6, 2020
BURNLEY have been promoted to Category One Academy status, making them the 25th club in the country to reach the top ranking.
Just three years ago the Clarets were Cat 3 and Chief Executive Neil Hart said rising so far in such a short space of time was a “tremendous accolade”.
One of the big advantages of going Cat 1 is the improvement in the games programme and Burnley’s Under-23s will now move into Premier League 2 Division 2 from next season, with the U18s in the northern group of the U18 Premier League.
The Clarets will also have the option of entering the Football League Trophy and European competitions, although this may not happen straight away. The Academy’s lower age groups will also play more regularly against Cat 1 opposition.
Burnley's Academy met the criteria required around investment, facilities, infrastructure and staffing, with the move to the redeveloped Barnfield Training Centre towards the end of 2016/17 described as being “key to the success”.
Academy Manager Jon Pepper said: “This is really good news and recognition of all the hard work that all the staff at the Academy have done over the last few years.
“The transformation from going from Category 3 to now Category 1 has been quite rapid and quite remarkable, really. It’s massive for a club like Burnley.
"If you can produce your own and add more Academy players into the first-team squad and more assets into the club, it’s going to be a really good model to operate, moving forwards.
“It’s a competitive environment and if you can produce two or three of your own into that first-team squad it does save you a massive amount in transfer fees, as well as producing assets for yourself.
“The investment the club decided to put into the training ground four or five years ago to progress initially to Category 2, and to support myself in developing that infrastructure, has laid down a marker to say we are serious about what we’re trying to do.
“I think this further raising of the bar will have a really positive impact and bridge the gap between Academy football and senior football.
“We’re hoping the games’ programme is enhanced, in terms of what we’ve been used to at Category 2, and in terms of recruitment it will have obvious benefits.
"Players are attracted to Category 1 environments.
“It will help us compete for the best players and retain the best players. The concept is ‘best with best’, so it will be a challenge for us on the playing side. At the older end, the 18s and 23s, we will be playing some quality opposition.
“It will be a massive challenge, but great for the players and for the staff as well. They want to challenge themselves, working at the best level they can and hopefully we can provide that sort of environment now.”
Hart added: “The development of our own players is an on-going key strategy of the club. We want to see players progressing from the Academy to playing first-team football here at Turf Moor.
“There is a commitment from the top of the club to see that strategy through. We are striving for excellence at all levels and this move to Category 1 status is a clear example of that.”
TGG visited Burnley's Academy for episode 2 of our podcast, speaking to Pepper, Head of Coaching Ian Jones, Technical Director Mike Rigg and Foundation Phase coach Ash Higgins.
Five other clubs have applied to move up a category: Leeds and Crystal Palace from 2 to 1, Bournemouth and Luton from 3 to 2 and Mansfield from 4 to 3. There is no news on whether or not they have been successful yet.
Category One Academies
- Aston Villa
- Blackburn Rovers
- Derby County
- Leicester City
- Manchester City
- Manchester United
- Norwich City
- Stoke City
- Swansea City
- West Brom
- West Ham