Crystal Palace awarded Category One Academy status
Written by Training Ground Guru — July 7, 2020
CRYSTAL PALACE have been promoted to Category One status and are now focused on becoming “one of the country’s leading Academies” to “capitalise on the hotbed of footballing talent in south London”.
The announcement comes a day after Burnley revealed their promotion and means there are now 26 Category 1 Academies. Leeds United have also applied to be upgraded to the top tier and are yet to reveal whether or not they have been successful, although TGG understands they have been.
The promotion means Palace’s games programme is enhanced – their Under-18s will play in the Premier League South division, while the U23s will compete in Premier League 2 Division 2 from next season.
Thirty-six players have come through Palace's Academy ranks to reach the first-team ranks in the last 15 years, making more than 1,000 appearances. The club has been Cat 2 since the introduction of the EPPP system in 2012, but has long held ambitions to compete with the top clubs on youth development.
In December 2018, the club secured a long-term lease on a site opposite its first-team training ground on Copers Cope Road in Beckenham to build a new £20m Academy complex.
Last month, planning permission was granted for a major upgrade to facilities, with work now underway.
Chairman Steve Parish said: "Achieving Category 1 status is the culmination of an immense amount of hard work from our staff, and it is an incredible achievement in such a short space of time since securing the land and planning permission.
"Our ambition is to have one of the country’s leading football academies to capitalise on the hotbed of footballing talent in south London. The investment in the playing facilities, education offering and player care provision will enable us to attract and develop the next generation of Wilfried Zahas and Aaron Wan-Bissakas.
"Furthermore, we are committed to having a transformational impact on the lives of the wider community and especially the 200 plus boys that are directly in our care at any one time, whether they make it to the professional ranks or not.
"The whole Academy site will also be widely used by the club to enhance our presence in the community – not just the playing facilities. We are looking at ways we can positively affect the lives of young people using the education facilities for job training and further education.
"I would finally like to take this opportunity to thank the thousands of our supporters who have already generously committed to becoming Academy Founder Members, helping us further enhance this magnificent project for the benefit of our young players for years to come."
The new Academy complex will include:
- Full-size DESSO main pitch with under soil heating.
- Covered full-size 3G synthetic pitch, for all-weather use.
- A full-size, floodlit 3G pitch.
- Six additional pitches of varying sizes for various age groups.
- Open-plan office and meeting spaces; restaurant common/ meeting area; terraces overlooking a new ‘show pitch’.
- Four classrooms.
- Campus-style internal and external refit to all buildings.
- New gym and sports science facility.
- 14 dressing rooms.