Sheffield Wednesday are delighted to be awarded category two status under the new Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP) system.
The EPPP is a long-term strategy designed to take Youth Development to the next level.
Academies up and down the country aiming for categories one and two underwent an audit in April 2013 with the outcome going towards the category the club would be placed.
From the outset, the Owls had strived to achieve category two status, complete with an action plan going forward and adding to the backroom staff in order to strengthen the youth system at the club.
Up to ten different factors were considered in the grading, including productivity rates, training facilities, coaching, education and welfare provisions.
The higher a club's category, the more funding will be made available as the EPPP will see the Premier League and FA invest more central income than ever before in Youth Development programmes.
SWFC academy manager Dean Ramsdale said: “We’re absolutely delighted. When I came into post in September, the short-term aim was to get category two.
“The club had undergone a pre-audit before I came in March time, and there was work to do to improve on that report.
“It’s a big well done to everybody who has worked really hard to achieve what we have got.
“There are four categories with one being the highest and four being the lowest.
"Being awarded category two means we get a substantial amount of funding from the PGB (Professional Game Board), it will make sure that we play teams of the same standard, it will allow us to have our games programme and it obviously sets us apart from other categories.
“We’ll get invited to more events, tournaments, futsal-type events for the younger lads and it shows that the club are out to achieve getting the academy up and running to where we want it to be.
“There’s been a lot of hard work to get to this point from everybody. The club, chairman and vice-chairman, the manager and his staff have all backed what we’ve tried to achieve. The idea of the EPPP is to have the integration between everybody at the club and without that, we wouldn’t have achieved what we’ve got.
“I’ve been able to change some things around, some staff have left, some have been recruited and the heads of department that I have got at the academy have really come to the fore.
“It’s not just about what facilities you've got – far from it. The facilities are part of it but the most important thing is the coaching programmes in place.”
The EPPP is the result of consultation between the Premier League and its clubs, representatives of the Football League, the Football Association and other key football stakeholders.
It has six fundamental principles:
- Increase the number and quality of home grown players
- Create more time for players to play and be coached
- Improve coaching provision
- Implement a system of effective measurement and quality assurance
- Positively influence strategic investment into the academy system, demonstrating value for money
- Seek to implement significant gains in every aspect of player development