Swindon Town Head of Player Development David Byrne has admitted that he would love to turn the clubs Centre of Excellence into a full blown Academy in the future.
With both a management and board that acknowledge the importance of graduating youth players into the first team then it makes sense.
Danny Wilson has said in the past that the youth team is important to his plans while chairman Andrew Fitton has always said that the correct development of youth will benefit the side and the club financially (when selling them on to bigger clubs).
Byrne told the Evening Advertiser that he has been impressed with academy projects at other clubs – he said ‘I`ve been to lots of Academies including Man City and Everton, but when I went to Blackburn the hospitality was fantastic. The whole set-up and the facilities were incredible and you couldn`t help but love going to work every day up there.
‘Budgie’ continued by saying that changes wouldn’t be made overnight and that small ‘steps are needed though and we`re quite happy with the way things are progressing. We need to make sure the intake is very strong this year because we need to keep supplying Danny with assets on the park.’
Some Requirements Needed for an F.A. Licensed Academy
* The ability to financially support the project
* The necassary facilities (indoor and outdoors)
* A separate staff from the first team set-up. This staff must be fully qualified and must also deal with the educational side of the Academy.
* A community programme must to sorted to run alongside an elite programme.
So does Swindon Town need an Academy?
There are pros and cons that can be argued both for and against bringing Academy football to a lower league club like Swindon Town.
The major con would be the amount of money that the club would need to put in long before there is any major benefits.
Bristol City have had an F.A. licensed Academy since 1998 but judging by their list of graduates you’d have to say that the financial gain from selling their players on has been disappointing not to mention that they spent a long time in the 3rd tier despite having the facilities to create a better side.
In November 2009, Bristol City chairman was forced to defend his Academy after it was announced that the project had made a loss of £375,000 on the financial year. Fans were critical because of the lack of graduates to emerge into the first team.
Notable BCFC Graduates
Financially, Cotterill is their set-ups most successful export. He earned the club £2 million in 2006.
An early product. Hill was a popular figure who played over 200 times for his hometown club. He was eventually sold to Preston North End for £100,000 and now plays for Wolves.
Brought in from Chelsea as a youngster. Lita developed at the BCFC Academy and was drafted into the first team under Danny Wilson. He was capped by the England U-21 side while still playing for Bristol City.
After an impressive season he was sold off to Reading for £1 million in 2005.
The son of a former City player, Liam Rosenior was an early product of the City Academy and earned the project a mere £55,000 at tribunal when he left for Fulham. He would go on to play for the England U-21 side.
When you put £3,155,000 next to a yearly loss of £375,000 then one could justify the costs of an Academy on the basis that once every other year you manage to sell a player to a Premiership club for a fee over £1,000,000+
However, that can be a big risk!
Swindon Town have done okay without an Academy but could certainly benefit if one was to be launched especially under the guidance of the expecienced Byrne.
The club have done well at The Milk Cup and enjoyed a good run in the F.A. Youth Cup in recent history. Successful graduates inclube Leigh Mills, Lukas Jutkiewicz and Ben Tozer who have collectively earned the club over £1 million.
Sides within the top flight are guarenteed status within the Premier Academy League but lower league sides are allowed in if they have the correct facilities in place.
Clubs that have status within this elite youth league but have never played top flight football are Bristol City, Cardiff City, Crewe Alexandra, Huddersfield Town and Milton Keynes Dons.
The Premier Academy League
West Ham United
Milton Keynes Dons
West Bromwich Albion
What do you think? Does Swindon Town need an Academy? Does it guarentee progress? Post your opinions below.
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