Everton Football Club’s highly regarded Academy has been awarded elite status by the Premier League.
The Blues have been granted a licence to operate a Category One academy for the next three years by the Professional Game Board Youth Group under the new youth development system, Elite Player Performance Plan, being introduced in England.
The Everton Academy underwent a stringent independent audit this autumn; when the Club’s training facilities, productivity and coaching, education and welfare provisions were all accredited with the top grading.
Speaking about the decision Everton Academy Manager, Alan Irvine, said: “When we try to attract players to the Club, we are delighted to be able to say that we have Category One status. We are one of the leading academies in the country and on top of that there is a pathway to the first team. That is a very important selling point for us because everyone can see the opportunities that talented young players are given here.
“Over the years we have had a lot of young players come through and been given a chance and that is not always the case at the big Premier League clubs. We wouldn’t like that to be undermined by the fact that we weren’t Category One.
“There’s no doubt that this is about what you are able to do to help the players make the progression into the first team. There is certainly no reason why players can’t break through in other categories of academy, but we want our players playing against the best. We want to have increased access to players. We want to have the freedom to recruit nationally if we choose to do so. So being a Category One academy is essential.”
The Elite Player Performance Plan is a long-term strategy designed to take Premier League youth development to the next level, increase the number and quality of home grown players and improve coaching provision.
Irvine continued: “We won’t take it for granted. We won’t assume we’ll produce players just because we are a Category One academy. That will still require a lot of hard work, and still be a very difficult job. But the biggest thing, as I say, is being able to have the opportunity to let the players see the pathway to get through to first-team football if they are good enough. I am delighted that we have that pathway.”