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Ashton: Category One a Possibility, But it Doesn't Excite Me
Friday, 30th Jul 2021 12:29

Blues CEO Mark Ashton has played down the significance of Town’s academy moving to category one status.

Town missed out on category one by 0.3 per cent in an audit in 2014 when the current system was instigated and it has continued to be a long-term aim. However, Ashton doesn’t see it as a hugely important step for the club to make.

“It intrigues me why people think cat one is a wonderful thing,” he said at last night's Fans' Forum. “It’s a possibility. It doesn’t particularly excite me.

“What’s more important is how we develop players though our youth system that are ready for Paul Cook’s first team as quickly as possible.

“We’re cat two, which is really important because that protects us from a value perspective, so if we sell or a club tries to take one of our youngsters, we have a financial set of parameters that are in place.

“Cat one is something where, other than the games programme, there is very little difference from we have at cat two.

“I’m more interested in how we get those young players ready for Paul’s team, and that includes expanding our loans programme.

“I want to have a quality of player in the academy and U23s, not a quantity. I don’t want to warehouse players just for the sake of keeping them.

“We’ve got to have real quality that get ready and are competitive for Paul’s first team.

“We’ll be looking at the whole of the academy and the U23s and the development system moving forward because it’s something that’s going to be really, really important to us.”

Photo: James Ager

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Upthetown1970 added 12:51 - Jul 30
Sorry Mark I dont agree. As a club we will continue to lose our best talent to cat 1 academies as the standard of football at u18 and u23 level is of a lot higher standard.

itfcjoe added 13:11 - Jul 30
“Cat one is something where, other than the games programme, there is very little difference from we have at cat two.

“I’m more interested in how we get those young players ready for Paul’s team, and that includes expanding our loans programme.

There seems a contradiction there, surely the improved games programme, and testing yourself against the best in higher quality competition helps get these players ready for the first team. It's not the be all and end all but it's another factor which helps

grow_our_own added 13:42 - Jul 30
Nonsense. We're haemorrhaging quality kids to cat one academies. They and their parents know the standard of the leagues is higher. This should have been priority #1 for the new owners. The academy made ITFC among the most successful clubs from outside big cities in the world. The entire club has slumped since being cat two. Grow our own!

Europablue added 13:44 - Jul 30
Upthetown1970 I don't see category one as the main difference between Norwich and Ipswich. We have been terribly run and don't bring players through that excel in the first team. We have been a dead end for young players' careers. Also, we are in League One. I think being in the Championship would make a huge difference, but the club having a proper structure is what really counts.

Guthrum added 14:17 - Jul 30
Are we losing youngsters because our competitors are Cat 1, or because they are Prem and upper Champ clubs?

Sunderland are the only League One side with a Cat 1 academy and they first got that status while in the Prem.

breedalot added 14:18 - Jul 30
itfcjoe, I don't think he is contradicting himself. I think he is saying apart from the games there isn't a benefit of cat 1. I am not saying I believe him, I think it's more likely that they have realised the CAT 1 is not realistic in L1 and there are better places to spend the money.

RegencyBlue added 14:55 - Jul 30
If it doesn’t offer any benefit why have the system in the first place?

I think this is a tacit acknowledgement by the club that it is going to be incredibly difficult for any club to achieve a new Cat 1 status now. Those who already have it are jealously guarding the status!

Another mistake by Evans trying to save a few quid, we should have applied for Cat 1 when the system was first introduced but instead all we got was a load of bull from Clegg about it not being necessary. Once even Evans realised that was a mistake it was too late. We applied but missed out on technicalities because those already with the advantage wanted to keep it!

truthhurts added 16:22 - Jul 30
All the signs, from the outside looking in, has been really positive since the takeover.

However, i've been concerned by Cook's views on our young players. Either throwing some on the scrap heap (Dozzell, Downes for example) or the Club not making others feel particularly valued, despite the player concerned wanting to stay (Gibbs).

These comments do little to reassure me.

I fully appreciate the main objective is to get promotion ASAP, but blooding youngsters has always been our way.

Hopefully still will be, and i'm worrying over nothing...

Upthetown1970 added 16:57 - Jul 30
Truthhurts. Totally agree with what you are saying. The bits I've been hearing from inside the club is that the youngsters are being overlooked. I believe this was a big reason for our top youngster Gibbs decision to move on to further his career, he almost said as much in his interview with his new club.

positivity added 17:51 - Jul 30
sunderland are struggling to keep players with their cat 1 status.

i think it's unrealistic in league one, but we need to look at it if we can get back in the championship

istanblue added 20:58 - Jul 30
Ashton is right. Pointless going for Cat 1, with all the expenses that entails, whilst Prem clubs can just swoop in and poach promising youngsters from lower league academies on the cheap.

Eddie1985 added 20:59 - Jul 30
This is really sad to hear and with transfer fees for young English talents through the roof you only need to grow the odd Premier league quality player to either improve the squad if alternatively command a huge transfer fee. I can't understand all these ppl saying, not while we're in league 1 wait until in the championship!!, surely given everything that's happened Cook us expected to get us up this season, if he's not he should be, you can't get rid of butcher and replace him with a kit man, get rid of bishop and keep Nolan???! Heve downes in reserves but play Norwood based on perceived attitude and professionalism, and if you do all that you need to be tight you need to win, simple as

VILJOEN67 added 21:34 - Jul 30
Its highly unlikely that a bid for Category 1 status would be granted to a league 1 club.

ArnieM added 07:14 - Jul 31
Maybe our academy isn’t producing young players that a good enough for our first team, and maybe the pathway from our academy to the first team isn’t good enough, so along the way we lose our very best ( true quality youngsters), amongst the “ forest” of “ quite good players”? So perhaps Ashton isn’t saying dispense with the academy, but streamline it( along the lines of the senior squad), which would house only the very best quality players so (in Ashton’s words) we don’t continue to be a “ warehouse “ of quite good players , but that these players aren’t actually good enough to break through into the senior squad?!

It’s interesting that he says there’s little difference between Cat 1&2 except for the Cat 1 league ….. why spend £m’s for the privilege of playing in that youngsters league, when decent season long loans for our youngsters into senior football in leagues 1or 2 might prove far more realistic and beneficial? This is only what Norwich do now - so why not us ?

ElephantintheRoom added 10:21 - Jul 31
Shows the man in the open neck shirt is thinking short term AND being pragmatic. Why develop your own players in a dead end system where first team football is closed off to them? Why develop your own players when fans get excited about signing journeymen and ludicrous loans? Why plan for five years down the line when you are an incoming spiv on a gravy train and wont be here in five years? He might not be excited about making the academy the best it can be - but those with long memories are. However in many respects he's right. A small club cannot hope to hang on to talented youth players in the current era - they will all be gone before getting anywhere near the first team. And the manager wants ready made players and has neither the inclination, nor ability to 'trust in youth'

Ipswichbusiness added 10:37 - Jul 31
The “warehouse” remark is interesting.

One suspicion that I always had about the Evans regime is that youth contracts would be sprayed around all over the place, presumably on the off chance that one or two would make good.

Edmundo added 10:41 - Jul 31
Right now focussing on the Cat 1 status for the Academy is not a good short term use of funds, and that 's what a CEO is all about. Short term we need promotion, get top half of the Championship and the same question will yield a different answer, I am certain of that.
We are where we are, and we need an over-ready L1 promotion squad.

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