Having secured our place in the EFL this time last year, our Academy became eligible to join the Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP) system and applied for category 4 status.
This application for a category 4 licence was successful and our elite U18 Academy players have been fully immersed in the programme this season. They have made an excellent start evidenced by their league performances, FA Youth Cup success, the number of players involved in Matt’s first team squad and the number of players attracting interest from other Clubs.
Following our excellent football coaching, player development and learning provision along with our recent audit conducted by Professional Game Academy Audit Company (Academy regulator) the Academy have now been awarded a category 3 licence subject to Premier League and English Football League ratification on 6th June.
This season has very much been a transitional period during which the Academy staff have also made significant efforts to prepare for a category 3 application. Having been successful with this application, the academy will grow to include registered players right from the under-9s age group up to under-18s. This will mirror many of the established EFL Club programmes, nurture our most talented youngsters and see that the Club is financially compensated for its investment in these players should any leave to follow their football pathway elsewhere.
As a Club with an already very strong reputation for developing talented home-grown players, we are incredibly excited by this development and look forward to seeing this talent nurtured through to the first team and beyond. In response to our successful application, Academy Manager Marvin Williams believes that ‘this represents a seismic step forward for the academy and will create an environment designed for developing professional football players whilst enhancing the already strong academy set up’.
Unfortunately this does mean that there will have to be a clear distinction between this elite pathway and our grassroots teams who will now be renamed and branded as Sutton United Colts. As a Club with an enormous community focus, these grassroots teams will remain a hugely important section and will potentially feed the best prospects into the Academy programme. Representatives from the Colts will meet regularly with the Board of Directors as these changes are made and will strongly feature in all Club plans in future years.