Twelve years ago, when the Vale Academy was known as a Centre of Excellence, it was ranked as 64th out of the 92 professional clubs in the top four divisions and 44th out of the 72 EFL clubs.
Fast forward to the latest rankings that have just been issued in accordance with the Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP) and the Vale sit 31st out of the 92 professional clubs and in 19th position for EFL clubs.
The EPPP is the result of consultation between the Premier League and its clubs, representatives of the Football League, the Football Association and other key football stakeholders.
Through a process of detailed audits an Academy categorisation of 1 to 4 is assigned to each professional club. This approach also provides a measurement of productivity which includes all players developed and playing at first team level at their respective club or are now playing for another club.
The Vale Academy holds a Category 3 licence and during the past seven years it has jumped from 19th to 7th position out of the 41 Category 3 clubs in the country.
“We are proud of our achievements and delighted with the steady progress that we have made over the years.” Said Academy Manager Sevvy Aslam. “Our rankings have continued to improve and this is testament to the hard work and dedication of all our coaches from U9s through to U18s, plus our backroom staff involved in recruitment, performance analysis and medical support.”
“The Club has always provided the Academy with financial support and despite the difficulties faced by the first team in recent years and the doubts over retaining League status, we have remained focused and still been able to identify and recruit promising young talent.
“This is despite the fact that we are heavily reliant on the use of third party facilities such as Dimensions and Northwood stadium which come at a cost with restricted use.
“We are also grateful for the goodwill of volunteers and friends who have been instrumental in supporting our wider needs.”
“We welcome the New Era under our new owners and their positive impact on the Club. The stability this will provide should enable us to maintain the high standards we have set and continue this upwards trend in our EPPP rankings.”
A snapshot of some of the players that have come through the Academy in recent years helps confirm the results of the EPPP audit:
Nathan Smith and James Gibbons are current first team players. Academy graduates Ryan Campbell-Gordon, Lucas Green-Birch, and Joe Berks who have all just signed their first professional contracts with the club are exciting prospects eager to learn, develop and hopefully take their chance with the first team.
Sam Morsy (Championship), Ryan Lloyd, Charlie Raglan and Luke Prosser (League 2) plus Ryan Boot and Sam Johnson (both National League) are further examples of established professionals that started out with the Vale Academy.
In addition, there are several outstanding young players that have recently transferred to top flight academies. These include Joel Ndala and Herbie James who both moved to Man City, Jimmer Storer (Wolves) and Luke Daley (Huddersfield).
“We did everything possible to keep these young lads” Sevvy confirmed.
“But when big clubs coming calling there is not a great deal we can do other than ensure we get the best possible compensation together with contractual agreements that include appearance and sell-on clause payments.”
“The Academy is a vitally important part of the Club.” said Co-Chair Carol Shanahan.
“Sevvy and his team do a fantastic job and this is clearly demonstrated by the exceptional productivity ratings we have been awarded.
“We aim to provide Sevvy and his team with the on-going support that he needs to ensure that the good work in identifying and developing young talent continues.”