Clegg: No Decision Made on Academy Category
Thursday, 8th Dec 2011 09:02
Town chief executive Simon Clegg says the Blues are still to make a decision on whether to opt for Academy Category One or Two status when the changes to the system come into force next season.
He says that while the club knows the figures involved - an annual cost of £1.5 million plus a £750,000 grant from the Premier League for Category One or £480,000 plus a grant of another £480,000 for Category Two – the full details of what will be involved are not yet clear.
Clegg, manager Paul Jewell and owner Marcus Evans will weigh up the pros and cons: “It’s a decision the three of us will come to," he said.
“At the moment they’ve not given us the full detail of what’s involved. They’ve given us the figures, which [for Category One] are a significant increase on what we’re spending at the moment.
“You have to say, what are the benefits of Category One? And one of the benefits is that you can effectively poach on a nationwide basis, but you need to think realistically how many parents from just outside Newcastle are going to let someone under the age of 15 relocate down to Ipswich?
“Most people who have got young teenagers in an ideal world would want them to grow up at home and be able to continue their footballing skills within the normal family arrangement.”
Norwich City have said they will be opting for Category One - Town Academy manager Sammy Morgan's preference from a footballing perspective - but Clegg says that doesn’t necessarily mean the Blues will follow their lead, despite fears that Town's youth set-up might be viewed as a second class system: “We won’t be forced into it. What we will do is do the right thing for this football club.
“We will continue to invest and prioritise the Academy accordingly and we will continue to select players when it’s right and when they are ready to move into the first team.
“But let’s not lose sight of the additional money that’s going to cost and you have to weigh up the financial benefits in the context of financial fair play.
“It may well be that youth development sits outside that, that’s still to be decided and that’s something which has been mooted, but it’s still an important consideration in terms of the overall financing of a football team. ”
He says he’s well aware of the cash brought in by selling Town’s young talent over the years: “I’ve done a huge analysis in terms of how much money has been generated by the Academy over the years.
“You only need to throw a Connor Wickham, a Titus Bramble or a Kieron Dyer every few years. It’s quite interesting to look at those figures.”
As for the financial fair play developments which Championship clubs signed up to earlier in the year, he says the details of how clubs move to a break-even model are amongst the many unknowns at present: “Nothing’s been set yet, that’s the challenge. “
“There’s going to be a level of deviation that you’re allowed over a period of time. The period of time and the level of deviation is still being determined. There’s still a lot of detail to go on this. I’m told we will get a formal presentation in February.”
Clegg and Town back the proposals with the Blues’ and other sides’ debts growing year on year as clubs compete to sign the best players at this level: “The club supports it as a matter of principle. I come at this like the 23 other clubs in the Championship and that is that we’ll agree with it as long as we can retain some competitive advantage.
“I’m not going to agree to something which is going to be financially disadvantageous to us over and above the other teams. But, of course, every other club is looking at it in exactly the same way.”
The Blues chief admits to being not overly happy with the way the changes to the youth system came about: “I have to say I was hugely frustrated with the academy thing. We were held to ransom by the Premier League.
“Eighteen months ago we agreed to a new solidarity payment and part of the agreement to that was the complete review and restructuring of the academy set-up, and now we find ourselves in this position.
“Would we have voted for the solidarity agreement 18 months ago if we knew what we knew now? I don’t know. The answer to that probably is yes because, let’s not kid ourselves, the Football League is totally dependent on the financial support of the Premier League to continue.”
Meanwhile, a recent graduate of the Academy, midfielder Reggie Lambe, who was released by the club last summer, has had his move to MLS side Toronto FC confirmed.
The 20-year-old will be working under Blues legend Paul Mariner, who is the Canadian club's director of player development.
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