Blackpool’s academy already making positive steps under Simon Sadler’s ownership – new data shows

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Blackpool’s academy has already taken some positive steps since Simon Sadler’s takeover, new data shows.

 

That’s according to rankings released by Training Ground Guru, a company that offers insight into coaching and football performance.

Entitled the ‘Academy Productivity Rankings’, the list is based on the number of clubs’ England-eligible players who made at least one league appearance in 2020/21.

The initiative was started in 2016/17 by Mark Crane, who became frustrated at the lack of information he could find about academy productivity when trying to find a club for his son.

All academies from Categories One to Three have been ranked and points are weighted according to the level an academy graduate played at last season, from Premier League down to the National League.

Blackpool, who operate a Category Three academy, sit 66th out of the 83 clubs listed, one place behind neighbours Fleetwood Town.

The first year these rankings were compiled in 2016/17, Blackpool finished 71st. The following year they dropped down to 75th. The rankings then took a three-season hiatus.

Blackpool owner Simon Sadler

Blackpool owner Simon Sadler

For the third season running, Manchester United top the list ahead of Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Southampton.

The top 10 clubs are all Category One.

Swansea City and Newport County sit bottom of the table due to a flaw in the methodology as most of their graduates are Welsh, not English players.

Middlesbrough, in ninth, are the only side in the top 10 from outside of the Premier League, while League One Crewe Alexandra are the highest-ranked Category Two side, in 11th.

The top Category Three side in the rankings are AFC Wimbledon in 33th.

Last year, the club set out its long-term vision to become the country’s top Category Three side before eventually progressing to Category Two level.

Ciaran Donnelly, who returned to the club after a spell with Fleetwood, has been tasked with making that dream a reality alongside Sadler and the club’s hierarchy.

The club has also outlined its objective to see five academy products reach the first-team squad by 2025.

After suffering from a severe lack of investment during the Oyston years, owner Simon Sadler has made the academy one of his main priorities over the coming years.

However, the club are well aware this will be a long-term project and it won’t happen overnight.

Key to the academy’s development will be the building of a new training ground, with plans expected to be announced over the coming weeks.

The club’s youth team are in FA Youth Cup third round action on Thursday night against Huddersfield Town at Bloomfield Road. Entry is free and the game kicks off at 7pm.