Chesterfield plan to retain their academy’s ‘category three’ status, pending an audit, but are examining the running costs
Under the Elite Player Performance Plan, the academies at Football League clubs can be granted official status under one of four categories.
The category status is awarded after an independent audit process, assessing things like training facilities, coaching, welfare provisions and productivity rates.
The EPPP has a tiered system for funding, with category one academies receiving the most.
Chesterfield director Ashley Carson met with academy manager Mark Smith and Football League youth development regional manager Adie Shaw this week to discuss the academy’s future.
The outcome of that discussion was a decision to retain the academy at its current status.
He said: ““All options were considered when we assessed plans for the future of the academy, but we think it is vital that we retain it.
“We are now in the process of completing the necessary paperwork to secure EPPP funding for the next three years.”
The Spireites do, however, want to make changes, with the introduction of younger age groups to pick up talented kids even sooner.
“The academy structure starts at under-9 level,” said Carson.
“We do, however, realise the importance of recruiting and developing players from the Chesterfield area so we are looking to introduce a Centre of Excellence for the younger age groups from next season.”
This season the first team has featured a number of academy products including Curtis Morrison, Laurence Maguire, Ricky German, Jake Beesley and most recently Joe Rowley – although the midfielder is yet to get further than the substitutes bench.
Carson believes that’s a good sign for the club.
“We have seen a number of academy graduates make the step up to the first team this season, which is testament to the hard work put in by Mark Smith and his staff,” he said.
“We now need to build on that and develop even closer links between the academy and the first team.”
First team manager Gary Caldwell this week stated his belief that the academy is of huge importance to the club.
“I think it’s massive,” he said.
“We have to try and develop our own players.
“It’s difficult in the current climate of different categories and how it’s geared towards the bigger clubs getting success.
“But seeing Joe (Rowley) and the talent he has, it shows it can be done – we can get players through and help provide the first team with quality players.
“So we have to keep working at that as a club and keep trying to develop those players.”
It was noted at the club’s AGM in February that the academy was listed in the accounts as having cost £227,390 to run, an increase of £50k from the previous year.
That generated a loss of £149k for the club.
Carson confirmed the academy’s finances were something he will be studying.
“As part of the continuation of the academy, we will be looking at all costs associated with the running of it,” he said.