Fulham have retained their Category One academy status for a fifth successive season, the club announced this morning.
Despite relegation from the Premier League in 2014, Fulham have held onto the highest academy rating under Elite Player Performance Plan since the new ratings were introduced. Fulham have produced a number of leading players from their academy into first-team football, including the new departed Patrick Roberts, Moussa Dembele, Emerson Hyndman, Lasse Vigen Christensen, Dennis Adeniran and Cauley Woodrow, who is currently on loan at Burton Albion.
Slavisa Jokanovic’s current first-team squad includes Academy graduates Marcus Bettinelli and Ryan Sessegnon with Steven Sessegnon, Tayo Edun and Matt O’Riley all making senior debuts this season. Fulham’s academy remains one of the most envied in English football and much of the credit for its continued success should be shared amongst chief executive Alistair Mackintosh, current academy director Huw Jennings as well as head of talent identification and recruitment Malcolm Elias and the academy’s head of coaching Steve Wigley.
Jennings told Fulham’s official website:
It’s really important for a club for our size and standing, to be competing with the best clubs’ youth development in the country. We’re very proud of our Academy and we are delighted to have received further affirmation of our work.
The other thing that is critical to us is the demonstration of the fantastic support we have had from the ownership and the executive of the club. They have backed the programme with a massive injection of cash into our facility development both last season and also for the long term future with the acquisition of the former BBC ground.
When the rules relating to facilities changed, we knew that it was going to be a very tall order to first of all gain the planning consent, to build the new facilities, and to get them completed in time to the satisfaction of the Category One auditors. We managed to achieve both and I think that’s attributed to a fantastic team effort. I should absolutely compliment [Chief Operating Officer] Darren Preston and his team, the facilities development programme was an outstanding achievement.