Preston North End being held back by ‘nonsense’ academy rule says Peter Ridsdale

Peter RidsdalePeter Ridsdale
Peter Ridsdale | Getty Images
The PNE director believes the criteria is unnecessary

Preston North End are no closer to upgrading the club’s academy to category two status - and club director Peter Ridsdale believes that is largely down to a ‘nonsense’ rule.

The Lilywhites are operating at the lowest category three status, though several youngsters have been rewarded with professional contracts in recent years - as well as making their debuts for the first team. North End’s academy has enjoyed some success at Cat-3 level, but there is a recognition of the need to progress up the levels.

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However, one pre-requirement for clubs wanting to reach category two is an indoor football facility - otherwise known as a ‘dome’. PNE have explored options within the city but that search has been to no avail - with the PlayFootball facility based at Tulketh High School not meeting size requirements. Ridsdale does not view that particular criteria as necessary.

“I think it’s absolute nonsense,” said Ridsdale. “And I have actually said that to the Football League. To be fair to them, it is a Premier League requirement - because the academy system is run by the Premier League, not by the Football League. When I met them last year to review my thoughts on academies, I said: ‘Please tell me why you need an indoor facility’. I just do not get it. If you have got everything else, that is relevant to developing the right level of kids in terms of pitches, coaches - why do you need an indoor facility? Which, to be honest, we wouldn’t use. If it was 10 inches of snow we might. But, it is a pre-requirement to get category two and it’s nonsense.”

Ridsdale added: “This must be the only city in England that hasn't got an indoor football facility. We've talked to the council, who say they aren't interested and that's it our problem not their’s - and that they don't have the money. That is their prerogative. They've got this levelling up fund for Ashton Park, which in my opinion they could've included in that funding for an indoor facility - which would've been open to the public when we didn't need it.

"At Cardiff, we built one and it is open to the public. They are not cheap, so yes of course we could buy/build one. But, the crazy thing about the academy, is that to get a grade two status we have every other facility other than an indoor facility. We tick every box otherwise and that, depending on what you build, is anywhere between half-a-million to one million pounds. And at the moment we didn't have that spare, versus signing a striker or two or a midfield player."

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