Ipswich Town set sights on gaining Category One Academy status

Bryan Klug

Bryan Klug - Credit: Archant

Blues owner Marcus Evans is eager for the club to rub shoulders with the country’s elite football academies by gaining Category One status, according to the club’s current Academy Director.

Town spend about £1m a year to be a Category Two-status club, as part of the Premier League’s new Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP), and are able to sign players as young as nine from distances of 90 minutes and beyond.

Just over a year ago, the Blues withdrew their interest in Category One status which would have demanded they employed a minimum of 18 full-time staff and work with an operational budget of at least £2.325m.

The EPPP’s top academies receive more funds, enabling them to compete for the country’s best youngsters and play against some of the globe’s best talent, in their age group.

Town’s annual accounts, released on Friday, revealed the club’s debts had risen to almost £80m and such a move would not be cheap to implement.

But, speaking on the eve of Town’s under-13s’ trip to FC Barcelona’s famed La Masia academy, and games against Barca and Espanyol, Bryan Klug, who oversaw the development of players such as Darren Bent and Darren Ambrose and led Town to FA Youth Cup glory in 2005, said: “When I was at Tottenham (head of player development), we took teams all over the world and the experience brought the players’ development on quickly. Any experience is beneficial for them.

“We are currently Category Two but the owner is keen on applying for Category One and we will be doing that as soon as we can.

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“But there is a lot of expense involved and we have to find ways of funding that.

“The first-team is the priority but its success can tunnel down to our level and traditionally, we have always been capable of producing good players.”

Clubs are independently audited every two years and should Town be re-categorised, their new status would come into effect at the start of the 2014-15 season.

This week’s trip has been funded by former Town star Kieron Dyer, whose son Kie plays for the under-13s, and sponsors Chelmsford Plastic Warehouse, Elite Renewables, WS Finance Consultants Ltd and Suffolk New College.