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Club statement: Brentford Academy restructuring

11 May 2016

Restructure of Club's Academy system

As part of a lengthy evaluation process, Co-Directors of Football, Phil Giles and Rasmus Ankersen were asked by the Club to examine the structure of departments within the football operation.

A cornerstone of that evaluation process was that the Club must strive to find ways to do things differently to our rivals, in order to compete and progress as a Championship football club. We cannot outspend the vast majority of our competitors therefore we will never shy away from taking the kind of decision that can give us a competitive edge.

This philosophy is particularly relevant with regards to the future of the Brentford FC Academy. As a London club, there is strong competition for the best young players, and the Club’s pathways to First Team football must be sufficiently differentiated to attract the level of talent that can thrive in a team competing towards the top end of the Championship. 

Moreover, the development of young players must make sense from a business perspective. The review has highlighted that, in a football environment where the biggest Premier League clubs seek to sign the best young players before they can graduate through an Academy system, the challenge of developing value through that system is extremely difficult.

Therefore, as a result of this review, the decision has been taken to completely restructure the Club's Academy system. 

From next season, the Club will be withdrawing from the EPPP and Professional Development League system. We will also no longer be running a full Academy system from Under-eight through to Under-21 level.

Instead, we will be running an elite squad of around 18 players aged 17-21. The new Development Squad will benefit from close links to the senior squad and a clear pathway into First Team football. We intend that this clear commitment to the development pathway will stand Brentford apart as a stand-out option for the most talented young players.  

The new Elite Development Squad will be given a strong football education, learning the same playing style and philosophy as the First Team. They will be ably supported by dedicated specialists from the sports science, medical and analysis teams.

The squad will play a carefully planned programme of games, predominantly against Category One Academy teams plus the opportunity to play against international teams. We intend to offer a games programme which is at a higher level than we could achieve as a Category Two Academy, and therefore stands us apart from other Category Two clubs. 

While there will be fewer players involved, we intend that they will be of an increasingly high calibre over the coming seasons. The Club will specialise in developing one age group rather than trying to master the whole talent spectrum. Budgets will be refocused so that we give ourselves the biggest possible chance to achieve our ultimate objective of promotion to the Premier League.

At the same time, the Club will also work closely and strengthen its relationship with the Community Sports Trust through their Football Development Centres in order to identify talent from the local community and ensure the best young players still remain a part of a system of progression through to the development squad and eventually the first team.

The Club are mindful of the impact of these proposals on the existing staff and players. We have begun a consultation process with everyone affected and will look to offer whatever support we can over the coming weeks.

We believe this proposal fits with the Club's philosophy of looking closely at an existing structure and, if it does not serve the correct purpose, never being afraid to change or be different to create a competitive edge. 

The recent First Team debut of Tom Field was a proud moment for this Club and a credit to the hard work of Academy staff in recent seasons. We will continue to strive to bring an even greater number of highly talented young players through to our first team via this remodelled route.

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