Town to join elite development of young players for 2014/15
The move will bring Blues in line with Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal, Tottenham and the other Premier League clubs and give Town the best chance of producing players that can progress into the first-team at Portman Road.
It will mean a significant investment from the Club but Town’s joint managing directors, Ian Milne and Jonathan Symonds are pushing the move forward.
Writing in today’s matchday programme, they say: “Our vision for the Academy is to become one of the most successful producers of young players in the country.
“We at Ipswich Town are immensely proud of our Academy structure, facilities and willingness to help produce and develop future professional footballers.
“This has been proven by the large number of players to have progressed through our Academy ranks and into the first-team, here at Portman Road and beyond.
“The purpose of the Academy is to identify and recruit young footballers of outstanding ability. We work to coach and educate them to reach their maximum potential, thereby giving them the very best chance of a career in football.
“However we will not meet and maintain the Category 1 status without increased financial support from all areas of the Club and we are launching a number of corporate and individual fundraising initiatives to help support the drive to Category 1 status so that our talented young players can learn, play and compete at the very highest levels.”
Academy manager Bryan Klug is fully behind the move and has set a target of up to 50 per cent of Town’s homegrown players playing at first-team level by 2017/18.
“Category 1 is where you have to be really to compete for the best youngsters around. It also gives you the best chance to develop them to play at the top level,” said Bryan, also speaking in today’s matchday programme.
“If you want to produce players at the highest level, they have to play against the best teams and players around. They have to be challenged, every week, every day.
“They need all the experiences that go with being a footballer at the top end. Being a Category 1 club will provide that and it’s where we need to be going forward. If not, then there is a danger you can get left behind.
“At the Academy we’ve set ourselves the target of looking to have up to 50 per cent of homegrown players playing at first-team level by 2017/18. It’s a big ask and there are many factors that go into that, but that’s the challenge for myself and my staff. Going Category 1 provides us with the best chance of delivering that.”