Confident Reading apply to return to Category One

Problems were identified with staffing and facilities by auditors

Problems were identified with staffing and facilities by auditors

READING have applied to return to Category One Academy status and are confident of regaining their licence before the start of next season.

As TGG revealed, the Royals were demoted to Category Two in the summer, having been Category One since the inception of EPPP in 2012.

The main issues were lack of certain staff and facilities not being open following their move to the Bearwood Park site during the covid pandemic. However, Reading say these issues have now been resolved and the return of Mark Bowen as Director of Football Operations in May has helped bridge a gap between the Board and football department.

Reading have applied for Category One and expect to be audited in the first three months of 2023, with any change of status taking effect from the summer.

"The club have completely backed the Academy - 100% - and we are running to a Category One standard and staffing because we are applying to go back to Category One straight away,” said Academy Manager Michael Gilkes.

"With Category Two, you don't need as many staff and standards are slightly different, and the way you operate and the facilities, so it's quite clear the club have shown where we are.

"If there were more cuts made you would think, how do you get back? Whereas we have applied already and are in a really good position where we operate already like that. For a lot of our players, if not all of them who go to Category Two clubs, it makes them realise we have it really good here so that needs to push them on.

"They [the EFL] will make sure that all the boxes are ticked and we’re going in the right direction before we then get audited. We get our stuff in place, the EFL come in and check and we will get audited as a Category Two club because we are, but we’re running as a Category One club.

"We have near enough ticked all the boxes already. They’re not going to tell us to improve the facilities or say we have to improve staffing because we’ve got more staff than any other Category Two [club]. We’re taking it very seriously, but it’s something we’re prepared for, and we will be ready.

"It goes by seasons, so we couldn't go back [to Category One] until the end of the season. We'll get audited between January and March and they'll let us know after that time. Then, you prepare for the new season."

Birmingham City and Burnley were also demoted to Category Two in the summer, with West Brom and Nottingham Forest granted provisional one-year Category One licences rather than the standard three.

Reading were 13th in our Academy Productivity Rankings for 2021/22.

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