Onward and upward, Jiminho! - Chris Brunskill
Bolton Wanderers' investment in the youth system and facilities has been rewarded by the Premier League. Thanks to an audit of Bolton's staff, player welfare, facilities, budget, and education among other factors, Bolton will have the ability to operate as a top status academy. This is part of the Elite Player Performance Plan which was ratified by clubs last October and Bolton have license to operate as a Category One academy for the next three years, at which point they will be judged again.
Academy head, and former caretaker manager, Jimmy Phillips, was very happy with the news:
"It is pleasing for everyone who has put all the hard work and effort in. To have our organisation and our professionalism rewarded with this category one status is a tremendous achievement.
"Our plan is that the academy will play a very important part in the club's future. Working hard as a club, we need to produce our own players and the success of the under-18 team in their league so far this season has been very pleasing.
"All of the full-time and the part-time staff at the academy have contributed in helping the schoolboy players go through the academy to become youth team players and young professionals.
"It has taken two-and-a-half years in order to achieve the changes in the youth development system. It is a system we have embraced as a club from the very start, and our academy is now recognised as our way forward.
"We are very pleased that we have been awarded this elite status."
The award is a wonderful commendation of Bolton's new-found commitment to youth players.
The progress that the academy has made over the last few years has been highlighted by the current crop of U18s. If you haven't been following along, the youngsters went through the first half of their season with just one loss in 14 games. They will be placed in the Elite group for the second half of the season after finishing second-place to Reading.