Five year plan as Town head for Category 1 - with help from the Blue Army
Blues have made the decision to compete with the leading clubs in the country in applying for Category 1 status as an Academy and have outlined a five year plan for the development of homegrown talent at Portman Road.
The plan includes a target of providing 50 per cent of the first-team squad by 2017/18 through the Academy.
Taking on Category 1 status will also mean:
*An improved games programme with matches against Premiership opposition including Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham, plus various international Academy games.
*An increased access to players with more coaching hours at all age groups.
*National Recruitment – not limited to recruiting players from the region (as is the case with category 2). The Club will be able to compete with the other Category 1 clubs for players from Ireland and Europe. There will also be additional safeguarding of our best players from other Category 1 clubs.
*Increased staffing and additional facilities.
*An improved standard of coaching by developing highly qualified staff.
Town are operating at Category 1 for this season, although still classified as Category 2. A category 1 audit has been requested for this season. That could happen anytime but it should be completed by May 2014. Probably much earlier.
Currently only four Championship clubs are Category 1 - Middlesbrough, Leicester, Reading and Blackburn. Moving to Category 1 will cost the Club around £2.4m per year, compared to around £1m at Category 2.
Although Town owner Marcus Evans will continue to fund the development of homegrown players, the Club have launched the Academy Association – giving supporters the chance to play a role in that development.
Former Blue Simon Milton is fronting the initiative, with the challenge of raising £500,000 through sponsorship over the season.
Full details of the Academy Association can be found here.
“Category 1 is where you have to be really to compete for the best youngsters,” Academy manager Bryan Klug told the Club website.
“If you want to produce the best players, they have to compete against the best teams and the best players around. They have to be challenged every day, every week.
“They need all the experiences that go with being a footballer at the top end. Being a Category 1 club will provide that. It’s where we need to be going forward.”
Town’s joint managing director, Jonathan Symonds, echoed those comments, adding: “While there is significant financial investment involved in going from Category 2 to Category 1, it’s going to make a big difference to the Academy itself.
“We will be able to attract better players and that will in turn reflect in the players that come through the system and play in the first-team.
“All supporters want to see players coming up through the ranks and playing in the first-team and going to Category 1 gives us the best opportunity of making that happen.”
There will be a full report on the launch of the Academy Association of Ipswich Player soon, plus Milts tells the Club website of one of the biggest challenges he faces in Town colours and how the fans can help him achieve it.