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What is Going on With the Academy at Ipswich Town?
Written by itfcjoe on Thursday, 27th Oct 2016 15:41

On 31st July 2013, Ipswich Town confirmed that after initially securing Category Two standard under he new Elite Player Performance Plan, that they will be going for Category One status as an academy, and the academy director, Bryan Klug declared that “It’s absolutely vital for this club that if we are going to produce the top level of player, we are Category One."

In the season prior to this (2012/13) 17.6 per cent of league starts were made by academy graduates; the bold and ambitious statement was made that ITFC hoped to have 50 per cent of the first team squad made up by academy graduates for the 2017/18

In 2013/14 - 16.4 per cent of league starts were made by academy graduates.

On 24th July 2014 it was confirmed that Town had failed their audit for Category One status. Academy head Klug stated, “We will be audited again next season and we will be doing everything we can to achieve Category One status because that puts us in the best position to produce young footballers for Ipswich Town."

In 2014/15 - 15.2 per cent of league starts were made by academy graduates.

On 19th November 2014 Town MD Ian Milne reiterated the commitment to achieving a Category One academy by saying, “The aim is to go to Category One at the next opportunity as soon as we can, that hasn’t changed.”

In that summer, on 27th June 2015 Milne confirmed that there would be an application made for Category One, the following summer at our next audit which was stated to be the earliest possible opportunity: “I had a meeting with [owner] Marcus [Evans] on Wednesday and the news is that we are planning to apply for Category One status, through the audit process, in the autumn of 2016."

In 2015/16 - 12.5 per cent of league starts were made by academy graduates.

On 7th September 2016 Town were audited for an academy at Category Two level, despite the previous claims that we would be going for Category One at this time, and Milne stated that it is now something that will be looked at in 2017, “We’ll look at that, absolutely. It’s a case that we’ll look at it in detail, look at the cost, look at where we are."

The bullishness has gone and it has now been linked to our league status If we’re in the Premier League it’s a no-brainer.

2016/17 - 4.6 per cent of league starts have so far been made by academy graduates

Since ITFC have declared their intention to go for a Category One academy, we have had one failed audit (by 0.3 per cent), and despite the club declaring they will go for a further Category One audit on numerous occasions they have yet to do so - and currently have pushed this back to 'considering' whether to do so or not in 2017. It makes you wonder whether we ever will as a Championship club, and whether all that is being said about it has just been lip service since the first failed attempt.

The ambitious target of 50 per cent of the first team being academy graduates now looks even more like it is just a pipe-dream - the number of academy starts in the first team has fallen season upon season, and this year is now less than 5 per cent - this is the equivalent of one academy player starting every other league game.

Since the declaration three sides have stepped up from Category Two to Category One - Brighton and Hove Albion, Derby County and Swansea. The first two of those three teams did it as Championship clubs, and not in receipt parachute payments, and that shows that it isn't just in the first team where we are being left behind by our Championship rivals due to lack of investment.

Ipswich are yet to finish in the top two at either U18 or U21/23 level since the restructure of the academy system, and therefore qualify for the end of season play-offs - if we were regularly winning titles at Category Two level it may have helped make our case to be considered a Category One academy; and in the three seasons since we have elected to go Category One, we have won just one FA Youth Cup tie also (on penalties vs Colchester United).

It feels like there is no way that the club will have a Category One academy whilst we are not in the Premier League, that there is no way that there will be anywhere close to 50 per cent of the first team as academy graduates and we currently sit behind academies of League One sides in the league at both U18 and U23 level.

Results are not everything at academy level, but if you have good players they tend to win games and go far in competitions. With the U23 team failing to act as an appropriate bridge between the academy and the first team, is it time to wonder whether the plans for Category One and attempts to have 50 per cent of the first team as academy graduates have been quietly shelved?

Please report offensive, libellous or inappropriate posts by using the links provided.

Mullet added 16:01 - Oct 27
How much is down to Tommy Smith being injured when it comes to these stats out of interest? Is it a coincidence he loses his place this season and the stats also take a massive nosedive?

Seems obvious on a second note that Cat1 was forever a Premier League brand and another way to contain the most valuable resources and status.

Luggworm added 16:38 - Oct 27
Injuries to Bishop and Hyam last season no doubt lowered the stat and has done the same for the start of this season. Smith was dropped prior to injury and it seems doubtful he would have regained his place by now. But that doesn't detract from the fact we are a long way from 50% youth products in the team. The likes of Emmanuel, Kenlock, Dozzell, Patterson and Morris won't get game time while there are some 'proper blokes' ahead of them.

When Gerken was in goal it was always the bloke with the shirt plays, but it's not the case when Emmanuel comes in and does an admirable job. Irrespective of category status young players are not getting a chance here and parents/players will take that into consideration when accepting offers from academies.

The other side of that coin is that the academy is not producing players good enough for the first team in which case why don't we take it down to Cat3 and save a load of money that could be spent on the first team?

armchaircritic59 added 17:54 - Oct 27
Have to say, this is one of the best and well researched articles i've read on here. I think it just adds to an article i put on here over a year ago. The club is just floating aimlessly on a stormy sea. Rudderless, leaderless and clueless. I speak as someone who while hasn't been to PR for quite some time, attended for decades and still cares for the club. Hate to see it in such a sorry state. Where do we go from here?

Pip50 added 21:20 - Oct 27
Mullet jugs are you for real defending the stats/club. What a fantastic blog. Shows fcuk you ambition.
As Privare Fraser eloquently said "we are doomed"

PortmanTerrorist added 11:42 - Oct 28
armchaircritic59 you show that you don't need to go to matches to identify, quite correctly, that we are "rudderless, leaderless and clueless". I would add that we are also lacking in investment (not just financial sort) and confidence as a Club... and am not just talking about the 1st team.

A change is gonna come

PortmanTerrorist added 11:42 - Oct 28
armchaircritic59 you show that you don't need to go to matches to identify, quite correctly, that we are "rudderless, leaderless and clueless". I would add that we are also lacking in investment (not just financial sort) and confidence as a Club... and am not just talking about the 1st team.

A change is gonna come

Mullet added 14:46 - Oct 28
Pip I'd suggest you read both the blog and my comment again and have another attempt.

Pip50 added 18:49 - Oct 28
Ok I will give it another go.
"How much is down to Tommy Smith...." by this you insinuate that if one adds potential appearances by one player the stats are better. Yep I agree, but by very little and still gives a downward trend.
"Cat 1 was always a Premier...." what are we doing if we are not striving for this land. Cat 1 is part of this stepping stone.
Read the above article again and the AGM notes it's so spot on in how we are being fed horse sh@t
I hope you are against the current regime like me. Frankly after three generations of my family whatching Ipswich I can't find it in myself to take my son, seduced by entertainment elsewhere!

Mullet added 10:01 - Oct 29
The downward trend takes a massive drop off when Smith lost his place this season nearly all of the reduction. There's no insinuation, nor criticism but stats as ever show they are wanting or paint half the picture. If anything they support Joe's point in this instance. There was a really good discussion on this on the forum.

How does the Cat 1. show we are not striving? In fact it shows quite the opposite and proves that the Prem just made it a closed shop to suit themselves. You've just made up a load of nonsense to cobble together your own frustrations whilst gobbing off, misguidedly.

I'm a Town fan, I'm against no one in particular. Evans has made several mistakes, but the actions and outlook of entitlement helps no one either. It's a shame you couldn't join in, in a decent manner.

Pip50 added 18:47 - Oct 29
Mullet clearly I need to aspire to your educated superiority. The original article was excellent your posts were insulting. I trust you were watching today. I have no feelings of entitlement but simply won't attend this type of entertainment. Being a "Town fan" well good luck, personally I want more.

JimmyJooJarJee added 21:08 - Nov 2
When Town failed the audit in 2014, Milton said the cost of category one status is £2.5 million, with a £750,000 grant from the Premier League; so costing overall £1.75 million a year.

Milne this year claimed that it cost category one status clubs £4-5 million to maintain this status, due to the goalposts having been moved. Milne claimed that not only did clubs have to provide category one status facilities, but also for the facilities to compete with other category one status academies (hence the extra cost), these being Premier League clubs and a few Championship clubs.

It seems without significant investment from the owner, Town aren't prepared to meet these costs unless they're a Premier League team.

Both articles here:


Milton: Bitterly Disappointed But Moving Forward 26th Jul 2014 06:00
Academy sponsorship manager Simon Milton says everyone at Playford Road was “bitterly disappointed” not to be awarded category one status earlier this week but are moving forward and getting on with the business of bringing through young players. 18


Milne: Cost Could Force Clubs Out of Academy Category One 20th May 2016 11:35
Town managing director Ian Milne says Championship clubs with Category One academies could switch to Category Two as they become more and more expensive to maintain. The Blues missed out on Category One by 0.3 per cent after an audit in the summer of 2014 and are set to stay at that level again next season. 13

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