The football club is celebrating after the news was delivered that the Academy has attained Category Two status, a culmination of a lot of hard work behind the scenes, which included a four-day audit which took place at Poolfoot Farm earlier this year.
With the Academy gaining their Category Three status back in 2016, it has been seven years of hard work from the staff to the players, and today marks a huge moment in the club’s history.
Making over 450 appearances in League One in the past five seasons, our Academy graduates have amassed over 27,000 minutes of first-team football within that period, with no less than 8 players commanding considerable transfer fees to clubs in the Premier League, Championship and Scottish Premier League.
The development of talent has continued further in the past 12 months, with the Academy seeing 17 graduates feature for the first team in the 2022-2023 season - a truly outstanding achievement for such a young academy setup.
Players such as Harrison Holgate and Carl Johnston have affirmed themselves as League One players since progressing through the clubs Academy, with youngsters such as Sam Glenfield, Kyle White, Stevie McMullan and Drew Baker all impacting the first-team last season, to name a few.
There are players who have also featured for their national sides. James Hill – who was sold to AFC Bournemouth for a club record fee – has made a number of appearances for England’s Under-20s, captaining his side and scoring his first goal for the Three Lions in their 5-0 win over the Czech Republic in 2021.
Josh Feeney - who is now at Aston Villa - captained England's Under-16s and bagged his first goal in their 6-0 win over Northern Ireland in June 2021. Billy Crellin was part of the England Under-17s squad that won the World Cup in 2017, with the young keeper keeping a clean sheet against Iraq in the Group Stages.
Carl Johnston, Barry Baggley and Paddy Lane are just a few to mention who have played for Northern Ireland at Under-17s level up to the Under-21s. George Morrison – who is a second-year scholar at Town – has played for Scotland’s Under-18s with striker Dominic Richmond playing for the Monserrat senior side.
In achieving Category Two status, the Academy underwent a vigorous four-day audit, which was overseen by six auditors in total. These auditors assessed the Academy in five different areas such as:
- Safe to Operate
- Health & Safety
With interviews conducted with staff, as well as observing the standard of coaching and education, members of staff were put through their paces, ensuring it was a thorough process from start to finish.
Now with the bump up to Category Two, Fleetwood Town’s youngsters will be put to the test against some of the best Academy setups in England.
The Under-9s to Under-14s will play against Category One and Two teams, meaning the likes of Manchester United, Liverpool, and Manchester City will be visiting the training complex down at Poolfoot Farm.
For the Under-16s to the Under-21s, they will play against fellow Category Two sides only, with clubs such as Sheffield United, Queens Park Rangers, and Burnley all visiting, providing wider challenged for the young aspiring professionals who will pitch their talent against clubs nationwide.
The new indoor dome was built in May and this was one of the requirements for the club’s Academy getting promoted to Category Two status.
In such a short space of time the dome has been used for all age groups, providing more opportunities to train all-year round, as well as getting unique training for all age groups within the Academy.
Jack Higgins, Head of Fleetwood Town’s Academy said on the brilliant news: “We are absolutely delighted to have received confirmation of our Category 2 status.
“This represents years of hard work from our dedicated staff and really highlights the rapid progression we have made since first establishing our Academy in 2016 – this shouldn’t be underestimated.
“In that time, we have developed countless players and staff now registered with Premier League and Football League clubs across England.
“We are becoming renowned for providing opportunities here at Fleetwood Town and convinced progressing to Category 2 will only help us further in developing the best young talent – we are really excited at what lies ahead.”
Town’s Chief Executive, Steve Curwood added the following after hearing the news: “This is a fantastic boost for the club and the culmination of a significant amount of work by many people over many years.
“The academy has been really building year on year since Poolfoot Farm opened back in 2016, and to finally achieve the new status is remarkable given where the club was not too long ago.
“The academy is many things, but importantly for a club like Fleetwood, it must be a core component in working towards sustainability whilst at the same time ensuring that sporting success can still be enjoyed.
Curwood followed up by saying: “The club finished in a very credible league position last season with close to 25% of the appearances coming from academy graduates. This was only 2% in 2018/2019.
“As well as more academy graduates playing more games for the club than ever before, over the last couple of years we have enjoyed almost of £4m of essential transfer income from sales of the likes of Josh Feeney, James Hill, and Jay Matete.
“Being part of their development and seeing them flourish higher up the pyramid is equalling as rewarding.
“I am really looking forward to seeing how the staff and players across the age groups step up in their development this season facing more competition opposition and responding to a more demanding framework.’’
The Football Club is delighted with this news, and we can’t wait to see what this has install for our already thriving Academy here based at Poolfoot Farm.