New academy looks to be Suffolk's best producer of Premier League talent

Alan Lee says Town still have a fighting chance of survival Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Former Ipswich Town star Alan Lee is one of the brains behind the new academy - Credit: Archant

West Suffolk is set for a new football academy thanks to an exciting partnership between Bury Town FC and two local education centres.

Former Ipswich Town star Alan Lee – currently the head of football at Culford School – has teamed up with Bury Town FC manager Ben Chenery and West Suffolk College sports boss Anthony Harvey to launch the new academy later this year.

The trio are hoping the academy will help Suffolk create even more Premier League stars such as England number one goalkeeper Nick Pope – and are looking at working with local clubs such as Mildenhall and Newmarket.

Anthony Harvey, Alan Lee, Ben Chenery and Joe Yakley at Bury Town FC

Anthony Harvey, Alan Lee, Ben Chenery and Joe Yakley at Bury Town FC - Credit: Chris Ward

Bury Town boss Mr Chenery, who also works as the head of football at West Suffolk College, said: “We have ex-players who are qualified coaches and teachers who will be delivering this level three BTEC sport excellence qualification. It will be the perfect mix of education and playing football.

“We want a thriving integrated football academy involving everyone – that is the long term plan.

“If we get players from local clubs like Walsham, Newmarket or Mildenhall for example, they will continue to play for their other clubs. We have found in the past that treading on peoples toes has not been beneficial.”

Staff at Culford School are also excited to be involved in the project, with the trio behind the plans saying scholars will benefit from first-class training facilities at Culford Park.

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Mr Chenery, himself a former Luton Town and Cambridge United player, added he wants to instil a positive ethos among future players and give them the best opportunities.

Head of sports, Mr Harvey, added he will be "very disappointed" should the academy not produce a professional player within five years.

He said: “We are an outstanding department – running an outstanding football provision and this will help take us to the next level. We consistently have students going to university and we have previously supported footballers like Nick Pope get to the Premier League.

"Our aim – without question – is to be the number one football academy provider in East Anglia.

“We need to get this right and then we will start expanding the programme in different directions that will incorporate women’s, disability football and other parts of the community as soon as we can.”

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