Reading promoted back to Category One Academy status
Written by Simon Austin — July 11, 2023
READING have been promoted back to Category One Academy status after being demoted last summer.
The Royals had been Category One since the inception of EPPP in 2012 and were often held up as a model Academy. However, they were demoted to Category Two last summer after issues were identified with a lack of staff and facilities not being open following the move to Bearwood Park during the Covid pandemic.
When the Professional Game Academy Audit Company (PGAAC) conducted an on-site visit to the Academy earlier this year they discovered a dramatic improvement. Their recommendation for Reading to be promoted back to Category One has now been ratified by the Professional Game Board.
Reading's licence is for the usual three years with a review after one. This means their Under-21s will compete in the revamped Premier League 2 and their U18s in Premier League South.
The news is vindication for Academy Manager Michael Gilkes, who has been in post since November 2019. At the end of last year he vowed that the club would return to Category One.
"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,” he said.
The arrival of Antoine Thompson from Cheltenham Town as Head of Academy Operations last July has also been significant. Thompson was Academy Director at Cheltenham and has played a major role in making sure that Reading were compliant with the different provisos of EPPP.
Meanwhile, the return of Mark Bowen as Director of Football Operations in May 2022 has helped to bridge a gap between the Board and football department, which had previously been a problem.
The success of the Academy represents a rare bright spot for the club. They were relegated to League One at the end of last season and will appear in court on August 9th over an unpaid tax bill.
The club were served a winding-up petition - which is issued when a debt has been ignored for three weeks - by HMRC in June. In addition, the Royals have been charged by the Football League on two counts: one relating to players not being paid on time and in full; the other against owner Dai Yongge for causing the club to be in breach of EFL regulations.
Reading were 13th in our Academy Productivity Rankings for 2021/22. Fleetwood Town and Bournemouth have both applied to go up to Category Two and we will bring you news on that as soon as we have it.