Reading Football Club are absolutely delighted to announce that our Academy has been awarded the highest possible rating of Category One.
Achieving Category One status was a strategic goal for the club, and achieving that goal ensures that our Academy is at the forefront of youth development in this country and further afield.
This categorisation recognises a number of major criteria including the level of our facilities, standard of coaching, education, and our ability to produce players for the first team. Only a small handful have been given Category One status which now ensures we have fixtures against the very best Academies in the country, the ability to attract and retain the very best players nationwide, and far more contact time between our coaches and players.
When the new Elite Player Performance Plan was announced, the club made the strategic decision to invest a huge amount of time and effort in ensuring we gained the best possible grading, and it is credit to all concerned that we are now a Category One club. Our Academy has already grown beyond all recognition since the start of the EPPP with the addition of new staff, facilities and plans for a new training ground, and confirmation of Category One will see the development continue at great pace.
From day one, owner Anton Zingarevich has placed huge emphasis on our youth setup, and this categorisation gives us the best chance of maintaining and building upon the fantastic successes from within our youth setup. Since Sir John Madejski introduced our Academy, under Nick Hammond and Eamonn Dolan's tutelage we have produced a fantastic crop of players: Jem Karacan, Alex Pearce, Simon Church, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Simon Cox, Hal Robson-Kanu, the list goes on and on; and our Academy was taken to another level when Alex McCarthy was called into the full England squad this summer.
Congratulations must go to every person who has made this happen, each devoting an extraordinary amount of time and effort and working incredibly hard to achieve this ultimate goal. From top to bottom, this has been a team effort and everyone at the club is extremely proud that we have now been named as a Category One club.