Mansfield promoted to Category Three Academy status

Richard Cooper was appointed Academy Manager last May 

Richard Cooper was appointed Academy Manager last May 

LEAGUE TWO Mansfield Town have been promoted to Category Three Academy status, meaning eight additional teams will now enter their Academy.

The news means that four of the six teams that applied for Academy promotion in the latest round of audits - Burnley, Crystal Palace, Leeds and now Mansfield - have been successful.

The other two - Bournemouth and Luton - are still awaiting their outcomes, although decisions are expected by the end of the month. Both clubs are planning revamps of their training complexes, but the work has not started yet.

In contrast, Mansfield opened a new £2.5m Academy in late 2018 and met the criteria for Cat 3 in terms of productivity rates, training facilities, coaching, education and welfare provisions.New age groups will now enter the Academy, in line with EPPP, from Under-9s to U16s.

Richard Cooper, who has been the club's Academy Manager since May 2020, said: “I’m absolutely delighted that we have been granted an opportunity to operate as a Category 3 Academy next season.

“This is a result of months of hard work by all of my staff and I thank them all for their efforts and can’t wait for the new season ahead. For the town of Mansfield, it gives our local junior players an opportunity to play for our club.

“Our new training facility, the RH Academy, will play a huge part in developing all our Academy players. The on-site facilities cover all the criteria set by the EFL. All players will follow a bespoke football curriculum which will include training and a professional games programme on a Sunday.

“We look forward to seeing our training headquarters (at RH Academy) fully operational by early September. The planning and preparation will now continue as we look forward for our very first professional fixture as a Category 3 Academy.”

Much of the auditing process had to be conducted over Zoom because of the coronavirus pandemic, which had at one stage threatened to delay the grading of Academies for another season.

Cooper added: “I think the sense of achievement is even greater due to the current circumstances we are currently in. We have certainly had to be more adaptable to current technology to aid our proposal.

"A thorough audit process was undertaken, which was mainly conducted over a series of Zoom calls.

"Previous inspection visits had already been undertaken at RH Academy from both the EFL and the Professional Game Academy Audit Company (PL).”

Chairman John Radford said: “This is a momentous achievement for our Academy, which is still in a relatively embryonic stage. The Academy and its staff have now been rewarded in public for the work they have implemented behind-the-scenes in the past few years.

“The awarding of Category 3 status will aid the academy in moving to the next level. It will be bigger, better and stronger than ever before. We are determined to develop all of our young players to the highest of standards and it’s an exciting time for aspiring footballers to be a part of an academy which has received national recognition.

“The new status underlines another significant mark of progress for our club, which moves Mansfield Town Football Club forward in the football world.”

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