Six clubs bidding for Academy promotion await fate

Burnley opened the £10.6m Barnfield Training Centre in 2017

Burnley opened the £10.6m Barnfield Training Centre in 2017

THE six clubs bidding to move up an Academy category are set to discover their fates within the next few weeks.

Category Two teams Burnley, Crystal Palace and Leeds United, Category Three Bournemouth and Luton, and Category Four Mansfield have all applied to move up a level in EPPP.

As TGG reported in March, full compliance audits were due to take place between February and March this year but had to be postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

There was even discussion about the potential re-categorisation being postponed for an entire season, but the decision was taken for the audits to be conducted remotely and several of the clubs have already made their submissions.

The results are expected to be announced in early July, meaning the new categorisations would be in place for the 2021/22 season. If successful, Burnley, Palace and Leeds would become the 25th, 26th and 27th Cat 1 clubs.

Last year, Burnley Head of Coaching Ian Jones told TGG: “The main driver to go Category 1 is the games programme at U15s upwards. At the top end is where you see the difference, at 16s, 18s and 21s.”

In 2017, the club opened the £10.6m Barnfield Training Centre, which houses both the first team and youth sides, and Academy Manager Jon Pepper added: “We have just got a couple of staff we need to put in place, particularly around player care, but the infrastructure is in place and we are operating way above Category Two requirements.”

If successful, the Clarets will have moved from Cat 3 to Cat 1 within the space of three years.

Earlier this month, Crystal Palace were granted final planning permission for a new £20m Academy redevelopment, meaning work on the project can now begin.

The club said: "Renovation work will now commence on the building interiors, creating new classrooms for the 220 young players and office space for staff.

"A state-of-the-art gym facility will also be prioritised in the coming months, whilst cladding the original pavilion building and the creation of a new terrace is planned for later in the summer."

When we spoke to Leeds United Sporting Director Victor Orta last October, he outlined the importance to the club of going Cat 1.

"From the start, when we arrived at Leeds United, Category 1 was something we were working towards," he said. "I respect a lot the Academy of this club. If you watch the production of talent of this Academy, it is amazing. For me, it is really important to produce Academy players, because this club has history and I need to respect these things when I am working in a club."

Bournemouth are also planning a new training complex, which will house both first team and Academy, while Luton accept that infrastructure work will need to be done in order to rise to Cat 2.

Luton Town's Academy & Development manager Andy Awford said: “We are confident that we can get the application approved to progress to Category 2.

“However, if for reasons out of our control it didn’t go our way in time for next season, we would still be looking to progress the following season and will still require to meet the required criteria.

“Whatever happens, we are going to need to enhance our current facilities to be able to make that progress.”

League Two Mansfield opened a new £2.5m Academy in late 2018 and are bidding to step up from Cat 4.

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