Wycombe Wanderers plan youth scheme re-launch

Wycombe Wanderers
Wycombe took Premier League Aston Villa to an FA Cup third-round replay this season

League Two side Wycombe Wanderers plan to re-launch a youth scheme, having closed down the academy in 2012.

The Chairboys and Crawley Town are the only two of 72 Football League clubs without any form of youth development.

On Thursday, the club announced plans to instate a Professional Development Phase (PDP) scheme for under 21s.

But they need raise £100,000 which will fund up to five young players and a development coach, before looking at expanding to younger age groups.

Depending on funding and the success of the scheme, the club would look to achieve Category Four status - which requires further staffing than the PDP scheme, but would include an under-18 side that could play in official leagues.

Jordon Ibe
Liverpool and England Under-21 winger Jordon Ibe came through Wycombe's youth system, before it was scrapped

Gareth Ainsworth's side, currently fifth in League Two, have a total 18 full-time players on their books because of financial constraints, as well as three players currently on loan, meaning they currently cannot train 11 v 11 or have any reserve games.

Recently, they played 46-year-old goalkeeping coach Barry Richardson in their League Two victory over Plymouth as they did not have adequate cover when Alex Lynch got injured during the match, and former QPR midfielder Ainsworth himself is still registered as a player in case of an emergency.

Chairman Andrew Howard said: "Gareth and his staff have done an outstanding job working with the smallest squad in the Football League, and have rightly received plaudits from other clubs with respect to the progress that young players have made under their tutelage.

"But having such a small squad places limitations on the progress that can be made on the pitch, and the Professional Development Phase scheme will give us as a better chance of moving towards becoming a sustainable club at League One level in the near future."

Before closing down the academy, it produced players including Liverpool winger Jordon Ibe, QPR midfielder Matt Phillips and Wolves defender Kortney Hause.

When it closed down, the club cited "financial limitations" and the "increased demands" of the Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP) - the new system for academies in England.

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