Cat 3 Awarded Following EPPP Audit
Blackpool Football Club can confirm that the club's academy has achieved Category 3 status, on completion of the Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP) audit and inspection process carried out in March.
"We've achieved Category 3 status and that is what myself and Richie were tasked with when we were appointed last summer," Academy manager Ciaran Donnelly revealed. "We've been working towards it all season and it has been a real team effort from the likes of Josie, Paul Gray, Jamie Milligan and all the other staff.
"We had the previous equivalent of Category 3 level but we now had to pass the audit to achieve that status. It means that we still function as a youth team and a full academy, ranging from under-16s down to under-6s. We've highlighted that we're doing the right things.
"The decision has secured our future for three years until we are audited again. We've got an academy in place with a lot of good players in it - that we've been working with for a number of years and not just this year - and now we can continue to get them through and help them progress through the age groups, the youth team and hopefully to the first-team.
"The chairman has been really supportive of our goals. As part of the EPPP process you have a technical board meeting every six weeks and myself, Josie, Richie and the first-team manager would meet with the chairman to discuss the academy and the way it is progressing, as well as what we need to make it better. Sometimes we've needed more equipment, more staff, better coaches, more training and a whole number of things. The chairman has supported us massively on that and without that support we wouldn't have been able to reach the stage that we're now at.
"We now have 140, 150 players signed to our academy for the new season and we have members of staff in charge of different phases. The academy players train three nights a week and play every Sunday so it takes over their lives a lot. We also need to work with schools to ensure that their education doesn't slip because we have to make sure that there is a balance," he added.