ACADEMY DEBATE: Ipswich Town could apply for an upgrade at a later date

IPSWICH Town could re-apply for Category One academy status should they be promoted to the Premier League.

That’s according to chief excutive Simon Clegg who has today announced that the club is likely to start next season with Category Two status under the new, Premier League led, Elite Player Performance Plan.

“There is flexibility if you want to apply for re-categorisation,” said Clegg, who has until the end of April to prove that Ipswich can put in place the infrastructure required to meet an intense Category Two audit.

“Let’s be clear though, we don’t have anywhere near some of the residential facilities that would be required for Category One. That would require a massive extra investment on the part of the club

“If we got to the Premier League and felt we could justify an application, we would do so. Clubs can be re-categorised upwards and downwards.”

East Anglian rivals Norwich City are believed to be one of around 16 clubs who have signalled an interest in being a top-tier academy next season.

Catgeory One academies will benefit from being able to recruit young players from across the country, while those in tiers Two, Three and Four will be limited to within an hour-and-a-half drive of their training centre.

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“The removal of the one-and-a-half hour rule for Category One clubs doesn’t really change anything,” said Blues academy director Sammy Morgan.

“Whenever predatory clubs have wanted a young player from outside their range they have simply picked up the family and moved them anyway.

“I don’t see Norwich potentially becoming Category One too much of an issue. There has always been a bit of a natural travelling divide between the clubs and I believe that will remain.

“Norwich have the money to go for Category One at the moment because they are in the Premier League, but whether it will be sustainable for them I don’t know.”

Clegg added: “I am sure those players who come from our natural catchment area will still gravitate to Ipswich Town.

“I think we will continue to attract and compete for overseas players.

“And I am absolutely convinced that the wonderful set-up we have got up at the training ground – coupled with the way we can demonstrate our track record in developing talent – will entice the right players to this club.”

EPPP FactFile

– The four-tier Elite Player Performance Plan was designed by the Premier League.

– The premise is to get more English players at the top level of English football.

– Category One clubs will be able to recruit from all across the country, while others will remain limited by a one and a half hour drive radius.

– Compensation rules will also now favour top tier clubs, with the maximum clubs can receive for Under-16 players being �136,000.

– The majority of Football League clubs voted the system in after the Premier League threatened to withhold solidarity payments.

– Town were one of 22 Football League clubs to vote ‘no’ against the system.

– Around 10-16 clubs could end up as Category One.

– Ipswich were one of only six Football League clubs to register their interest in Category One.