Major step for Youth Academy
Millwall Football Club's Academy has recently received recommendation from the PGB (Professional Game Board) for Category Two status under the new Elite Player Performance Plan.
This scheme has been put in place to enhance the development of youth football in England.
The positive recommendation follows an extensive independent audit of the club’s youth development programme that inspected criteria such as vision, strategy, facilities and the coaching programme.
The new Academy framework is a four tier system that is not linked to first team league status.
However, the category that is applied for is reflected by the long term financial commitment of the club. Category One will be achieved by the majority of Premier League clubs and involves extensive resources as well as European youth football.
Category Two will predominantly be Championship clubs and will also involve a competitive U21’s league. Categories Three and Four will be made up of the remaining League One and Two clubs.
As an established Championship club, Millwall decided to apply for Category Two status as this would demonstrate an intent to produce players capable of playing in the first team.
The audit took place between 8th -11th November 2012. Initially the audit saw the club submit a comprehensive database of evidence detailing its youth programme and its role within the football club.
Millwall Academy Manager Scott Fitzgerald said: "We were the first Category Two club to be audited and were confident of the outcome. The staff have worked really hard and very long hours to ensure we succeeded with our application.
As a youth department we have embraced the audit process and have felt it provided us with an opportunity to compare ourselves against best practice.
The report came through six weeks after the audit and provided us with a detailed action plan. This was anticipated and everything outlined within the report was achievable.
I now feel we have the structure in place which will enhance the development of our young players and allow them the greatest possible chance of playing for the Millwall first team. The likes of Aiden O’Brien, Connor Wilkinson and Jake Goodman have all performed well in the Development Squad this season and we will be looking for them to push on next season and be part of Kenny’s future plans."
Lions boss Kenny Jackett commented: "Firstly I would like to commend Scott and his staff on the tremendous work they have done in achieving Category Two status.
It was a rigorous process and by no means a foregone conclusion that the outcome would be successful.
Millwall has a proud tradition of bringing talented young players through into the first team, and we are committed to maintaining that tradition going forward."
We now have a very good youth set-up here with excellent staff which will hopefully make us an increasingly attractive prospect for aspiring youngsters who will see the prospect of developing and fulfilling their ambitions with us."