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Ipswich Town miss out on Category One academy status

PUBLISHED: 17:13 24 July 2014 | UPDATED: 07:58 25 July 2014

Ipswich Town

Ipswich Town

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Ipswich Town have been informed that their application for Category One academy status has been rejected.

Bryan Klug, Ipswich Town academy director

“We’re obviously disappointed to miss out on Category 1 this time.

“The staff, in particular Helen Broughton, worked tirelessly to prepare for the audit and we felt confident that our structure is good enough to be granted Category 1 status.

“We’re all disappointed, frustrated, but we go again. Getting to Category 1 is our aim and everyone is fully committed to getting there.

“I have spoken to Marcus (Evans, club owner) and he’s as disappointed as the rest of us but he’s fully supportive of us moving forward and continuing to push for Category 1. “We have made a lot of progress over the past year and we will continue to make progress.

“We will be audited again next season and we will be doing everything we can to achieve Category 1 status because that puts us in the best position to produce young footballers for Ipswich Town.”

Following a complex audit in May, carried out by an independent Belgian company, the Blues fell short of the required 75% result by just 0.3%.

Former Ipswich chief executive Simon Clegg voted against the Elite Player Performance Plan in 2011, insisting that the new system had been designed as a closed shop for the top Premier League clubs.

Premier League chairman Richard Scudamore threatened to withdraw solidarity payments to Football League clubs if EPPP wasn’t introduced though and the system was voted in by 46 votes to 22.

Town initially opted for Category Two status, leading to more than 5,000 supporters signing a petition, and last season the Blues vowed to spend thousands on upgrading their staff numbers, facilities and infrastructure in order to apply for top-level Category One status.

When applying last July, the club announced a bold plan – that 50% of the first team squad will be academy graduates by 2017. At that time, supporters and local business were asked to donate money to the academy to help with running costs – estimated to be £2.5m a year for Category One clubs, though that money falls outside of the limitations put on owner investment under new Financial Fair Play rules.

Ipswich’s audit was carried out in May and, earlier this month, Town managing director Ian Milne said the club’s continued wait on a decision was ‘frustrating and ridiculous’, while he slammed the new system as ‘slightly disorganised’ and ‘a little bit of a mess’.

The benefits of Category One status include membership in an elite Under-21 league and the ability to recruit players from further afield.

The Premier League website’s official EPPP information page states that ‘academies will be independently audited and given a Category status of 1 to 4, with 1 being the most elite. Up to 10 different factors will be considered in the grading, including productivity rates; training facilities; and coaching, education and welfare provisions. The higher a club’s Category the more funding will be available to it and the EPPP will see the Premier League and FA invest more central income than ever before in Youth Development programmes across the country.’

Championship clubs Bolton, Blackburn, Middlesbrough, Norwich and Wolves all have Category One status, while Derby and Brighton have applied.

Ipswich Town legend Ray Crawford says summer signing Joe Garner will be full of confidence following his prolific pre-season form.

Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy says he would be more than willing to put teenager Flynn Downes into his starting line-up for the Championship opener against Birmingham City if his lengthy midfield injury list does not clear up.

Ipswich Town suffered their first defeat of pre-season this afternoon, losing 2-1 at League One side Gillingham.

Ipswich Town will look to keep up their winning start to pre-season at Gillingham this afternoon. STUART WATSON looks back on how recent summers went.

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