Blackpool’s youth system set for overhaul

Tom Barkhuizen is one of the latest to come through Pool's youth system

Tom Barkhuizen is one of the latest to come through Pool's youth system

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BLACKPOOL’S youth system is to undergo a dramatic overhaul this summer after a big increase in funding from the Premier League.

The Seasiders are creating an Academy and will almost double their spending in a bid to produce new talent.

They will also appoint an experienced football man to oversee the operation.

Manager Ian Holloway and chairman Karl Oyston have spoken at length about how the Academy will function.

They have drawn up detailed plans and aim to have the new set-up off the ground by the start of the season.

Oyston explained: “It is all to do with the Elite Player Performance Plan. Effectively, instead of having a Centre of Excellence funded to the tune of £160,000 – of which I contribute £30,000 and the Premier League £130,000 – we will become an academy. You have to meet a lot of criteria and it will be a struggle, but it is a struggle we are going to enter into.

“It will have £300,000 worth of funding – £100,000 I put in and £200,000 that the Premier League pay. It goes from our under-7s development squad through to our under-21s.

“We will focus on all age groups but especially the 16-21 category. We will focus on that like we never have before.

“If we can bring in good 16 or 17-year-olds from abroad or here, and some who haven’t quite made the grade at other clubs, then we should stand a chance of producing one or two players, more than we ever have before.

“Our younger lads will have a training base. The development squad will train at Squires Gate each morning with the pros and in the afternoon with the youth team.”

“It will means a lot of changes to how we run the youth set-up and it will mean recruiting extra staff.

“We still won’t have a reserve team – we’re not going back on that – but the development squad we have talked about really will be a development squad, albeit we will try to loan some out to get proper football.”

Pool have had some success bringing youngsters through in recent years. Danny Coid, Clarke Carlisle, John Hills all came through the ranks, while Tom Barkhuizen and Ashley Eastham are among the current crop of bright young things making a name for themselves.

Gary Parkinson did much to knock the youth system into shape and his fine work has been continued by current head of youth John Hills. The changes this summer are intended to improve the youth system even further.