Burnley set to lose Category One Academy status

Two years after achieving Category One status, Burnley’s Academy is set to be downgraded to Category Two.

By Chris Boden
Friday, 20th May 2022, 9:00 pm

The decision is likely to be rubber-stamped next week, following a Professional Game Acaemy Audit Company audit, in a big blow to the Clarets, who moved from Category Three to One in three years under the now departed Jon Pepper.

Burnley were one of three Category Two clubs given provisional Category One status in 2020, along with Crystal Palace and Leeds, with a three-year licence usually applied, but the Covid-19 pandemic meant a provisional two-year licence was issued.

Auditors are believed to have raised issues with Burnley’s Academy, and the club is now set to drop down again.

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However, Burnley executive director Mike Smith insists the club remain committed to the development of youngsters at the club: “It should come as no surprise that Burnley Football Club is fully supportive of the Premier League’s goals in striving to increase academy standards across the country.

"The club has continually undertaken to do so on its own both before and after receiving conditional Category 1 approval in the height of the pandemic.

“We are proud of how we have adapted as a high performing academy and have continued to maintain and advance a high-level programme notwithstanding the challenges throughout the pandemic.

“We have seen a high number of players progress through the academy to make their debuts with the first team squad, be included with the first team on match days, and progress into first team men’s football either on loan or with other clubs.

“We were repeatedly commended on the approach we took towards Covid in both ‘Project Restart’, in passing the safe to operate audit conducted last year, and through completion of league protocols which will conclude at the end of this season.

“Periodic audits are important in helping to assess and maintain established standards. They aid in identifying possible areas of non-compliance or improvement, and facilitate corrective action that may be needed or recommended to advance things and develop players both on and off the pitch.

“For the media to suggest that a decision has been made to withdraw conditional approval or reclassify the status of Burnley’s academy is rather suspect, and would be troubling if that were true. The PGB board which considers such matters, for example, is not even scheduled to meet until next week.

“Naturally, board members have duties and obligations to substantively and carefully review, analyse, and genuinely consider matters surrounding their decisions; not merely act to rubberstamp matters. This includes reviewing not only audit observations, but seeking to understand any corrective actions that have been taken since the time of the audit.”