Town confident they can continue to run their academy on same lines despite Premier League urging changes

ACADEMY manager Sammy Morgan is confident Ipswich Town will be able to maintain their ability to develop talented young players despite proposals from the Premier League to alter the current academy system.

Over the last 40 years Ipswich has been a rich conveyor belt of teenage talent with current first team star Connor Wickham the latest in a long line who have moved on to play for the first team.

The capacity to find and produce players and the possibility of improving finances from any transfer fees is a key ingredient to how a club like Ipswich has functioned over the years.

Now this is in danger with a shift being proposed both on how academies are categorised and how compensation is paid.

Morgan attended a meeting at Leicester City FC yesterday to discuss this with other clubs involved.

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He said: “The first draft of the proposals didn’t look good for clubs in the Football League.

“But the second draft, which is still under discussion, is not so severe and I’m hopeful that we’ll find ourselves in category two and be able to carry on in similar lines to what we are now.

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“These changes are driven by the Premier League and although the Football League is the poor relation we must ensure that we do not lose out to the big boys on this.”

The plan is to have four categories of academy with category one aimed at the most wealthiest in the Premier League with residential accommodation, on site schools plus additional staff for school sports science staff etc.

This would cost an estimated �4million annually to run and would be above the reach of Ipswich.

Category four would be for clubs just wishing to run an academy for boys aged 16 to 18, and Morgan cannot see clubs taking on this one as it would lead to reduced monies from the Football League and Football League Foundation.

“As things stand at the moment we will be endeavoring to be a category two,” added Morgan.

“This would see us able to play category one clubs, which would be an advantage when it comes to recruitment.

“And we would still be able to take in boys from age eight and nine and the rules about boys having to live within a 90 minutes of a club would still apply although perhaps Category One clubs might get privileges.”

The changes were originally due to come into operation before the start of next season, but Morgan says there will be a delay with talks still ongoing.

“I’d expect us being able to categorise ourselves and category two is our aim, and then be inspected by an independent body to be rubber stamped or given advice about how to reach the standard required.

“As part of a solidarity agreement between the two leagues the Premier League feel they are paying enough to the Football League anyway without paying compensation payments.

“They feel they are already contributing to their development and negotiations on this are also ongoing.”

Currently compensation payments are due for players who have not signed a professional contract, which they can do on their 17th birthday.

Morgan is happy with youngsters he and his staff are currently working with and in particular the Under-16’s who have a great record this year.

“Our policy is to use players up a year and I’d rather lose an Under-18 game 1-0 with Under-16 players than win with overage players, who we are allowed to use,” explained Morgan.

“Connor Wickham is flying the flag for our academy right now with new manager Paul Jewell very supportive at all our age groups and new Under-18 coach Russell Osman having a great way with the youngsters and having fitted in well.”

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