Wigan Athletic have recently applied for Category Two Academy status which will lead to significant changes within the Club's youth development programme for youngsters aged from 9 all the way to 21.
As part of the Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP), recently developed by the FA and Premier League, any football club academy must attain certain criteria stipulated by the regulatory authorities in order to secure Academy status.
This is an exciting and timely development in youth football as it will be directly aligned to the Club's future emphasis on producing home-grown elite players driven by Roberto Martinez's modern and innovative philosophies.
At over 18s level this has already begun to produce players such as Callum McManaman, Daniel Redmond, Lee Nicholls and Roman Golobart, and the same level of coaching techniques will now be applied throughout all age levels.
The intention is to provide a new facility for the Wigan Athletic Academy, which will allow the Club to reach the highest level (Category One) and be at the forefront of youth development both in the local area and nationwide.
The proposal will see a move away from the Centre of Excellence scheme that has been in place to oversee the development of young players at the Club, and will not only provide a higher and increased level of coaching but also increase the potential to attract aspiring young, local talent to Latics.
The new structure will introduce advanced coaching to players but also schedule match fixtures against elite opposition in a bid to improve the competition and quality of football at youth level.
Former Club Captain Matt Jackson will oversee developments as Operations Manager and said of the news:
"I'm delighted to be able to play a further part in development of Wigan Athletic and we are relishing the challenge ahead.
"The existing staff members at the Club have worked incredibly hard for us to be able to get to this point in the application, and right now we're all fully focused on providing a great opportunity for our young players and embracing the Premier League vision for the future of youth football in this country."
Chief Executive Jonathan Jackson added:
"This project is an immediate priority for the Club and we're delighted to embrace and support the changes implemented by the FA and Premier League.
"If successful the academy status will have massive potential for the future of our Club and we will be able to give the best talent the best opportunity to become the best players through an organic and structured process here at Wigan Athletic.
"However, we face a huge challenge in the short-term to compete with clubs in the area with existing facilities and structures, and to achieve to Category Two status.
"Youth development is a key element in the progression of Wigan Athletic."