Barnet FC’s Centre of Excellence has announced that it is to become a ‘Category 2’ Academy under the Premier League’s new shake-up of Academy Football across the UK. The change, which is also supported by the Football League, will mean that, with the categorisationof Youth Academies from the lowest ranking ‘4’ to the highest ranking ‘1’, Barnet FC will have one of the top Academies in the Football League. The ultimate goal of the restructuring will be the development of better youth players for first team and, eventually, national football.
The transformation will affect the youth set-up of every club around England. However, Barnet FC have invested heavily into the project making sure that any player under the age of 18 will receive some of the highest facilities available to them. The club has also revealed they are looking to create more jobs for people within the local area due to the necessity of quadrupling the number of staff and coaches at their training facility, The Hive. With areas including Coaching, Sports Science and Medicine, Scouting and Talent ID, and Education and Welfare, the Academy will be aiming to offer budding professional footballers the potential to fully develop to the best of their abilities. One such example of this will be the change in contact time with players, with Under 16s increasing their time with coaches from eight hours a week to 12 hours. This will reverberate throughout the age groups.
As well as the changes being made to the coaching side of Academy Football, there is also expected to be a sharp transformation in the structure of youth football leagues. As part of the Premier League’s ‘Improved Games Programmes’, Barnet FC will be able to add an Under 21 team to their already strong roster of Under 9 to Under 18 teams. The Programme will involve Academies that fall under similar Categories playing each other across the season, regardless as to what division their First Team is in.
James Thorne, Head of Barnet Football Club’s Centre of Excellence, said, "This is a major step forward in the development of the Youth Department. By signalling our intention to become a Category 2 Academy we are showing a huge commitment to our young players, staff and all the people associated with Barnet. We are fully committed to producing players for the future of this Club and have a fantastic platform with the Hive and our new Academy status to help achieve this."
He continued, "It has taken major investment and an extraordinary amount of hard work and planning to get to this stage, however, this is only the start of what we hope will be a period of continued growth and improvement both on and off the pitch for the Academy and the Club."
Another of the positives for Barnet FC is that The Hive, the state-of-the-art training complex they use in Camrose Avenue, Edgware, already meets the requirements of a Category 2 Academy, as laid out by the Premier League. The club previously announced this year they would be spending £4 million to improve The Hive, including a gym, classrooms, banqueting suite, offices and a restaurant.
Barnet FC’s Centre of Excellence Under 18 Team has done particularly well this past season, putting in some stellar performances to finish fourth in the Football League Youth Alliance, as well having two players promoted to the Barnet FC First Team Squad – Left Back, Elliott Johnson, and Winger, Luke Gambin.