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Switching to a Category 4 Academy 16:42 - Feb 5 with 2211 viewspablovian

As I understand it, there are four categories of football academies. Categories 1 through 3 start with under-9's, and category 4 starts with under-17's. ITFC has a category 2 academy that narrowly missed being a category 1 academy.

ITFC could switch to a category 4 academy that would be cheaper and easier to run. Some entrants could be players who do not make it in Premier League academies (i.e. a 'Brentford Lite' model). Others could be promising foreign players whose parents are willing to pay for their sons to gain EFL academy experience. (This appears to be one of the ways in which Morecambe FC survives with virtually no income. ITFC is far more prestigious, and is ideally located just off the Dutch coast!)

A Category 4 academy could be run economically on the basis of up (into the first team squad) or out (in some cases, for a fee ). Compared to other teams in Leagues One and Two, ITFC would have significant competitive advantages when implementing a Category 4 model. Especially if the facilities were to be spruced up ...
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Switching to a Category 4 Academy on 16:48 - Feb 5 with 2152 viewsDarth_Koont

I can sort of see it not mattering in a big city like London where you'd be swamped by other clubs and activities, but isn't ITFC having a well-established and deep academy pretty important for the community-club bond?

Whether it's the most efficient and cost-effective approach for generating first-team players is a different question. But, for ITFC, not sure it's as simple as looking at it from just that one perspective.

Similarly the ITFC women don't help our first team but perhaps increasingly will help strengthen the club as a whole.
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Switching to a Category 4 Academy on 16:50 - Feb 5 with 2141 viewsSteve_M

Are you intending for this Category 4 Academy to produce players of the same standard as ours currently does?

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Switching to a Category 4 Academy on 16:54 - Feb 5 with 2121 viewshomer_123

Switching to a Category 4 Academy on 16:50 - Feb 5 by Steve_M

Are you intending for this Category 4 Academy to produce players of the same standard as ours currently does?


Better - otherwise?

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Switching to a Category 4 Academy on 16:56 - Feb 5 with 2114 viewsfooters

Brentford's model relies on no longer having an academy. As we've had one of the more productive ones of any UK club it would be madness to go down another route.

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Switching to a Category 4 Academy on 21:58 - Feb 5 with 1722 viewspablovian

Switching to a Category 4 Academy on 16:56 - Feb 5 by footers

Brentford's model relies on no longer having an academy. As we've had one of the more productive ones of any UK club it would be madness to go down another route.


I would like to see a cost-benefit analysis of how productive our academy has been. I believe that a well-run category 4 academy would be more cost-effective, due to a sharper focus and a lower cost, but am certainly willing to entertain other points of view. My analysis neglects the benefits that academies have on the community-club bond. That is because I do not know how to assess them.

In an era when non-Premier League clubs are being forced to either evolve or slowly die, it would be madness to rule out changes to the existing status quo.
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Switching to a Category 4 Academy on 22:06 - Feb 5 with 1684 viewsNthsuffolkblue

Switching to a Category 4 Academy on 21:58 - Feb 5 by pablovian

I would like to see a cost-benefit analysis of how productive our academy has been. I believe that a well-run category 4 academy would be more cost-effective, due to a sharper focus and a lower cost, but am certainly willing to entertain other points of view. My analysis neglects the benefits that academies have on the community-club bond. That is because I do not know how to assess them.

In an era when non-Premier League clubs are being forced to either evolve or slowly die, it would be madness to rule out changes to the existing status quo.


Remind me of the model by which Southampton have become a Premier League Club from this position.

I would suggest them lot up the road have to some extent too.

If you can develop young players and sell them on for a good profit it is the way to progress.

I am not sure how downgrading the academy by 2 notches fits in with that policy. I would rather we focussed on developing young players and making money for the first team that way.

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Switching to a Category 4 Academy on 22:20 - Feb 5 with 1633 viewsfooters

Switching to a Category 4 Academy on 21:58 - Feb 5 by pablovian

I would like to see a cost-benefit analysis of how productive our academy has been. I believe that a well-run category 4 academy would be more cost-effective, due to a sharper focus and a lower cost, but am certainly willing to entertain other points of view. My analysis neglects the benefits that academies have on the community-club bond. That is because I do not know how to assess them.

In an era when non-Premier League clubs are being forced to either evolve or slowly die, it would be madness to rule out changes to the existing status quo.


The reason we have Cat 2, almost Cat 1, status is the quality we are producing and the means with which we have to produce it. What kind of talents could we attract with fewer staff, facilities, etc? Sorry, doesn't make sense for me at all.
[Post edited 5 Feb 22:21]

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Switching to a Category 4 Academy on 23:38 - Feb 5 with 1502 viewspablovian

Switching to a Category 4 Academy on 22:06 - Feb 5 by Nthsuffolkblue

Remind me of the model by which Southampton have become a Premier League Club from this position.

I would suggest them lot up the road have to some extent too.

If you can develop young players and sell them on for a good profit it is the way to progress.

I am not sure how downgrading the academy by 2 notches fits in with that policy. I would rather we focussed on developing young players and making money for the first team that way.


You make several good points, thank you.

I have a couple of additional observations:

1. Going from Category 2 to Category 4 is not so much a downgrade by two notches as a transfer to a different class of academy. (Categories 1, 2 and 3 start with U9's, so going from Category 1 to Category 3 is indeed a two notch downgrade. Category 4 starts with U17's and is the only category in its class.)

2. Academies that start with U9's can have issues that Category 4 avoids. One is the large amount of effort expended on players who never make it to the U17's. A second is the establishment of an monoculture that lacks the resilience and flexibility that results from experiencing diverse cross-cultural interactions. Monocultures can also make it difficult for academy players to be taken seriously, because people form opinions of them when they are very young.
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Switching to a Category 4 Academy on 01:06 - Feb 6 with 1453 viewsGuthrum

If your academy intake doesn't start until age 17, then your source of supply is mainly those lads who have failed to progress somewhere else. The ones who aren't considered good enough for a Prem club's setup - given the latter tend to keep everyone even half good and loan out the spares, doesn't bode well. You'll get the odd exception, like Tyrone Mings, but he grew much taller between being rejected by Southampton and picked up from Chippenham.

The good players are going to have been embedded somewhere since age 9 and will be unwilling to move unless forced to. How will we attract the decent ones?

The foreign parents idea is interesting, but there's nothing to stop that happening now.

Also, how much really will it save, given you still need the facilities and a fair proportion of the staff?

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Switching to a Category 4 Academy on 08:50 - Feb 6 with 1185 viewsVaughan8

Surely this is a very short termist view.

The best way to "save" money, or gain money is to develop your own players...…

In a word, No!
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Switching to a Category 4 Academy on 10:44 - Feb 6 with 1101 viewsBlue_badge

Switching to a Category 4 Academy on 21:58 - Feb 5 by pablovian

I would like to see a cost-benefit analysis of how productive our academy has been. I believe that a well-run category 4 academy would be more cost-effective, due to a sharper focus and a lower cost, but am certainly willing to entertain other points of view. My analysis neglects the benefits that academies have on the community-club bond. That is because I do not know how to assess them.

In an era when non-Premier League clubs are being forced to either evolve or slowly die, it would be madness to rule out changes to the existing status quo.


**** Tautology Alert ****

"existing status quo" - aren't they all ? (No Rick Parfitt jokes...)
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Switching to a Category 4 Academy on 10:46 - Feb 6 with 1096 viewsrickw

Erm No!
If we lose Downes and Woolfenden in the summer we'll get a combined £10m-£20m for them, our academy isn't a cost - it's our only hope for anything better!

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I think you'll mean we'll get a combined.... on 11:54 - Feb 6 with 1027 viewsBloots

Switching to a Category 4 Academy on 10:46 - Feb 6 by rickw

Erm No!
If we lose Downes and Woolfenden in the summer we'll get a combined £10m-£20m for them, our academy isn't a cost - it's our only hope for anything better!


....£5m to £7m for them.

Once we are consigned to another year in the 3rd Division we'll take whatever we can get. Some of these figures being bandied around are ridiculous.

Rochdale sold their "wonderkid" Matheson to Wolves for £1m.

We're in the 3rd Division and we have no money.

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Switching to a Category 4 Academy on 12:10 - Feb 6 with 1000 viewsElephantintheRoom

There is one school of thought that the Town academy is doomed in its current form anyway. The academy bricks and mortar and grass no longer belongs to the football club - it belongs to Marcus Evans. It is entirely feasible that a future sale could include the football club - but not the training ground.

Your original point is a good one... how much does the academy deliver - be it in prestige, brownie points - or hard cash. Not many obvious prospects will be kept to first team level, they will be siphoned off by 'big' teams - and there seems to be a real difficult integrating even quite good young players into the team ...eg wolfy and downes loaned out last season when they could have been playing for Town.

Good players often turn up by luck... eg Wickham because his dad moved to Colchester...Rhodes because a job was created for his dad. Not all or indeed many actually go through the system as envisaged.

Clearly the academy system isnt working for Town... and a rational approach to something that does work would be beneficial - but clearly contentious to those that think the academy (and Town's use of it) is not currently dysfunctional and has been for decades

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The definition of insanity ... on 15:31 - Feb 6 with 900 viewspablovian

Several posters on this thread have asserted that ITFC's 'almost Category 1' academy is successful, and that there is no need to consider alternatives.

Could those posters please explain why, if the academy is so successful,

1. The club is operating in League One, i.e. two levels below the Premier League.

2. Performances against clubs in the top half of the division are consistently disappointing.

3. The club has accumulated debts of ~£100 million.

4. The accumulated debt is increasing by ~£8 million each year.

As Albert Einstein once pointed out, "Insanity Is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."
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Switching to a Category 4 Academy on 19:01 - Feb 6 with 809 viewsrfretwell

Thanks Pavlovian for that info. I think most of us were not aware there is a Category 4 level. There are good arguments for and against our present Cat 2 level. One thing I would question is : does it make sense to keep trying for Cat 1 status when we have no money even for loans players and Cat 1 will cost an extra £1 million a year according to O'Neill? Surely that can wait until we eventually reach the Championship.
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