Scunthorpe owner performs u-turn on Academy closure
Written by Training Ground Guru — April 16, 2023
SCUNTHORPE UNITED owner David Hilton has granted a reprieve to the club’s Academy, just two weeks after announcing it would close.
Following defeat by Oldham Athletic on Easter Monday, the Irons suffered their second successive relegation, meaning they will play National League North football next season. In 2010/11, they were in the Championship.
A fortnight ago, Hilton - who took over the club in January - announced he would be closing their Category Three Academy.
"To create a sustainable model for the football club, I would have to strip away money from the first-team budget to fund an Academy from which I've seen no real evidence that it will benefit us," he explained.
"Keeping hold of the better players in the Academy doesn't seem to happen. We lose the majority of them before the age where they can participate in first-team football. In 10 years we haven't had any players that we've had a sell-on clause for, which in my eyes doesn't show a great deal of success."
Now Scunthorpe have announced that “after discussing the future of the club's Academy, a business plan presented by Academy Manager Tony Daws has been approved” and that Hilton would “contribute towards a significant shortfall this coming season and support the Academy as it moves towards a self sustainable model in the future.”
Scunthorpe, who have been Category Three since 2013, placed 74th of 80 clubs in TGG’s Academy Productivity Rankings for 2021/22.
Manager Jimmy Dean described the reprieve as “a real positive” and added “it gives them time to make a model that keeps running until we do get back in the Football League and you get the funding then from the EFL.”
However, no details of either how the Academy will be run or how it will be funded have been disclosed.
“I don’t know too much, it’s probably above my pay grade,” Dean admitted. “It was more about becoming a sustainable model than something that had to be paid for by the chairman.
“He is covering quite a significant shortfall this year to keep it running. Lincoln City was a great example. It’s something he’s exploring.”
A Scunthorpe Academy insider told TGG that "players, parents and coaches" hadn't heard any more than this though, which has "led to absolute chaos."
"Players think they have the right to take trials and offers at other clubs," the source added. "I've been at a game today where the opposition had a member of staff working their way across parents, offering places.
"There has been unbelievably bad communication from the club about rights and options and that really isn’t good."
The club have also u-turned on plans for the first team to move training to Ilkeston, 70 miles from their Glanford Park base.
Hilton had said: "The players have been spoken to. We [currently] have to put up a lot of players in accommodation in Scunthorpe and this will remove a lot of that cost. We will be able to attract a lot more players from many more areas and locations that can still stay at home with their families rather than have to lodge away.
“It saves the club money and we'll have a bigger pool of players to choose from in the summer."
The club now say they have listened to "feedback from our supporters" and will continue to train at Glanford Park.