Academy boost for Norwich City Football Club

Norwich City chief executive David McNally believes the club's bid to revolutionise their academy will make them pioneers in this part of the country.

The Canaries' proposed academy set-up has been recommended for 'category one' status after an exhaustive audit as part of the new 'Elite Player Performance Plan' currently being rolled out nationwide among the top clubs. City will now be able to recruit from a much wider talent pool to help nurture future generations of homegrown players.

'It's a big day for the football club,' said McNally. 'We hope that the Professional Game Board will ratify their recommendation next month and it will be at that time when things become official. We are thrilled. Currently we are restricted by the 90 minute rule. We have two million people within that area, whereas most of our peer group clubs will have 15 million or more. We are limited under the current arrangements – however you look at it. This will also enable us to bring the elite boys in at an earlier age. We can look after them on a full-time basis, providing we look after their education, so we can train them during the day as opposed to the evening and after-school. We are convinced that this will help us provide better and more talented players in future seasons. As a business we said it was a key objective for us. We wanted to achieve category one status. We will be the only club in the East, which we are convinced gives us a competitive advantage, and we are looking forward to bringing in better quality players from Norwich, Norfolk and further afield.'

McNally praised the work of academy head Ricky Martin and his team after the club's hierarchy instigated a major summer overhaul in personnel and training infrastructure at Colney.

'A huge amount of work has gone into the bid for category one from people at the club, especially Ricky Martin and his team who have done the hard yards,' he said. 'I think there were 224 mandatory criteria that we had to hit, which we have done, and that is a long list. It was a monumental task when you look at the infrastructure and the amount of recruitment required. '

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McNally outlined the longer term vision is to ensure the club benefits from a steady stream of fresh talent.

'At first team level it is all about merit and quality so it will still be up to these young players to be developed to a point where they can be knocking on the first team door,' he told the club's official site. 'We believe it would take only one player to come through each year to be part of a 25-man Premier League squad to make this self-financing, but obviously Chris Hughton would have the final say. The financial investment is huge, but we think we can get pay back. The plan is to make Colney state-of-the-art. We have not spent a lot of money on it in recent years, so we have planned probably an equal amount of money to be spent on it over the next three summers to what has just gone.'

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