ACADEMY DEBATE: Ipswich Town opt not to apply for Category One status

IPSWICH Town will not be a top-tier academy next season.

Blues chief executive Simon Clegg has today announced that the club has withdrawn its interest in Category One status under next season’s Elite Player Performance Plan.

It would have cost the club in excess of an additional �2m-a-year to meet the Premier League led criteria for an elite youth programme.

Instead, they will spend around �1m extra per-annum to meet Category Two standard.

The decision will anger the 5,000 supporters who signed an Independent Supporters Trust petition campaigning for top-tier status recently.

However, Clegg and academy director Sammy Morgan say the move will not weaken Town’s chances of producing the next Connor Wickham, Keiron Dyer or Darren Bent.

“It is a very emotive subject – I recognise that,” said Clegg. “Having spent the time and effort that I have in terms of researching this though, I’ve decided it’s not right for this football club. We just can’t justify the costs at this time.

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“I remain convinced that the excellent track record we have at this club of developing young footballers will continue with this added investment.”

Morgan said: “If we make Category Two we’ll actually have a far stronger academy next season.

“We’ll be bringing in extra staff such as a video analyst, strength and conditioning coach and a sports scientist.

“We’re as committed as ever to producing young players at this club. Our reputation goes before us and that won’t change just because of a number or a label.”

– See today’s EADT and Ipswich Star for full story and reaction.