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Huddersfield Town set to overhaul Academy set-up in youth football restructure

Club confirm it will move from its current Category II status in the Elite Player Performance Plan to Category IV within the next month

Huddersfield Town has confirmed a major restructuring of their Academy Set-up this morning.

Huddersfield Town have confirmed they are set to overhaul their Academy set-up from their current Category II status to Category IV of the Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP).

The news comes after intense press speculation Town were preparing to scrap their entire youth set-up as no replacement appeared apparent for Academy manager Steve Weaver who left the club a month ago.

However, in a statement issued today, the club have vehemently denied these claims while simultaneously renewing their promise to providing youth football and a platform for youngsters to development their skills across West Yorkshire.

In October 2011 clubs across the country accepted the EPPP – a long-term strategy designed to advance youth development in order to produce home-grown talent good enough to play at the highest level.

Philip Billing's youth development at Huddersfield Town started after Under-16 level.

Under the scheme, player development is divided into phases - Foundation (Under-9 to Under-11), Youth Development (U12 to U16) and Professional Development (U17 to U21).

Huddersfield Town were awarded Category II status on the EPPP inception back in 2011, meaning the club can recruit players from the age of eight-years-old (the same as Category I rated clubs).

Today's announcement to the lowest Category IV means the club will now only be allowed to recruit and develop talent from the age of 16 and over with the current youth sides from Under-16 being phased out within the next month.

 

Owner Dean Hoyle has stressed this is the hardest decision he has ever had to make as chairman of the football club but believes it is the right thing to do.

Parents of those youngsters involved as well as Academy staff were notified of the proposals on Friday afternoon with the club working hard to provide the necessary support to all those affected by the changes.

The decision has been made at Board level, led by Hoyle with the club at pains to stress current first-team coach David Wagner has not been involved in the decision-making process.

It is speculated it costs around £20,000 a week to run the Academy, equating to £1m a year with the club also quick to deny the move is a cost-cutting exercise by vowing to re-invest any savings in junior football in the area through the expansion of the Huddersfield Town Foundation charity, which will run a full spectrum of football programmes for children and youths.

 

Town's focus on elite football squads at Under-18 and Under-23 level to develop players for the first team will also mean young players will be given a strong football education, learning the same playing style and philosophy as their first team counterparts - supported by dedicated specialists from the sports science, medical and analysis teams.

On top of the games programme provided by the Premier League, the Under-18 and Under-23 squads will play carefully planned programmes of games against top-class opposition, both at home as well as possibly abroad.

Huddersfield Town chairman Dean Hoyle has called the decision the hardest he has ever had to make.

On the changes, Huddersfield Town chairman Dean Hoyle said: “Since my first year as chairman in 2009, we have taken great pride in always doing things our own way.

“The need to find ways of being competitive is more pertinent than ever following the club’s promotion to the Premier League. We must find ways of being competitive against our peers.

“Huddersfield Town were fully committed to the new EPPP rules introduced by the Premier League in October 2011, investing large sums of money to establish Category II status.

"The climate has proven difficult for this club considering EPPP rules and the number of big clubs on our doorstep, which offers strong competition for the best local players with Category I sides.

“Our Academy system must provide a strong and obvious pathway to the First Team for players who are good enough, whilst also representing value for the club. Upon review, this is not something that we could claim.

“This decision has been the biggest we have undertaken in my time as chairman, and not an easy one. However, we cannot be afraid of change. This is a vital area to the long-term success of this club and we must make every effort to get this right.”


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