Academy complete successful audit process to secure top ratingReading Football Club are exceptionally proud to announce that our Academy has retained the Category 1 status – a rating we were initially awarded three years ago as part of the Premier League’s Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP) structure.
Our Academy remains at the forefront of youth development.
The audit process – a root and branch analysis of our facilities, the standard of our coaching, our education methods, our Academy’s achievements and the club’s ambitions for our youth programme in the future – was conducted towards the end of last season and an immense number of employees at every level of the business played vital roles in ensuring we met the criteria to be granted Category 1 status once more.
Many congratulations and sincere thanks must go to all of those who helped to ensure Category 1 status has been retained. Such a comprehensive evaluation of our ability to deliver an Academy of this calibre demands a lot of time and a huge amount of work from a vast number of people working tirelessly behind the scenes at Reading Football Club and their devotion and diligence during the process, not to mention their exceptional standard of work to meet such high expectations as a Category 1 club over the last three years, has been duly rewarded with this announcement.
The shareholders join with our fans in recognising the importance of our Academy and the foundations it lays for the long-term future of the football club. This elite categorisation gives us the best chance of maintaining and building upon the fantastic successes that have stemmed from within our youth setup.
Very few clubs were awarded Category 1 status back in July 2013, especially outside of those with first teams competing in the Premier League – for example, last season our Under-21s were one of only two Championship teams playing competitive football in the top tier of the Barclays U21 Premier League; Middlesbrough joining the Royals in a division with fellow competitors such as Manchester United, Everton, Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City.
And similarly our Under-18s were one of only three teams in the Southern section of the Barclays U18 Premier League, finishing second in a division which saw us compete on a level playing field with Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, Leicester City and Southampton amongst others.
Category 1 retention ensures we will continue to play competitive fixtures against the elite in this country. Category 1 ranking also means we retain the ability to attract the very best young players and offer those stars of the future the very best coaching and education throughout their development.
The European Championships are currently ongoing… a competition which includes Iceland’s Gylfi Sigurdsson, Republic of Ireland’s Shane Long and Welsh duo Hal Robson-Kanu and Simon Church. And of course Michael Hector has been playing a part in the Copa America Centenario out in the USA for the Jamaican national team this summer – all players we proudly call products of our Academy.
Our supporters should not underestimate the magnitude of this achievement. Reading Football Club’s Academy continues to be a beacon for other clubs with aspirations to recruit from within and produce talented footballers capable of making an impact on the first team and building successful careers on the domestic, European and international stage.
“This is a magnificent achievement, both rightful reward and true recognition of the time, money and sheer hard work we, as a club, invest in our Academy set up,” said Chief Executive Nigel Howe.
“Category 1 status reaffirms the fact that our youth programme has solid foundations, big ambitions and continues to be the envy of others across the country. Well done to all who have supported such high standards within our youth set up over a number of years and who will continue to run a Category 1 Academy programme which is held in the highest esteem.”
Acting Academy Manager Lee Herron said: “Retaining Category 1 status is a magnificent achievement for Reading Football Club, and it becomes an opportunity for us to continue the great work that has been done over a long period of time.
“The commitment and desire from the staff here is phenomenal, and I’m very humbled to work with them. This achievement is a huge credit to everyone involved, and a testament to the wonderful leadership of Eamonn Dolan over a number of years.”