Swansea City academy to keep Category One status after budget cut fears

Ben Davies (left) with Joe Allen
As well as the Swans' current crop, Wales' Ben Davies (left) and Joe Allen are also graduates of Swansea's academy

Swansea City's academy has escaped being downgraded as part of a bid to cut costs at the Championship club.

Swansea have had notable success with their youth system in recent years, with seven academy graduates in Graham Potter's first team this season.

Four of Wales' starting line-up for last month's win over Slovakia - including highly-rated winger Daniel James - were products of the system.

The academy's elite-level status had been under threat in recent weeks.

But meetings on Tuesday saw the club's hierarchy decide against making the change.

Swansea chairman Trevor Birch said: "I can confirm the club will be maintaining its academy Category One status next season."

It is not clear whether the academy will be protected beyond the 2019-20 season, with reviews of club spending ongoing.

Club bosses had been considering a significant cut in the youth budget, which could have meant downgrading the academy from the highest-ranked Category One status to Category Three.

It is understood the club's academy costs around £5m a year to run at Category One level while downgrading could have cut spending to below £1m a year. Moving to a Category Two status is thought to make little difference financially.

In private, Swansea officials were keen to avoid such measures despite the need for the club to make savings across the board.

It is thought there will be some cuts to the academy, but not at the cost of its elite status which has produced a number of first-team players in recent years.

This season's top scorer Oli McBurnie, full-back Connor Roberts and winger James have all won international honours having played academy-grade football at the club.

However, the Championship club have been open about needing to bridge a revenue deficit of around £30m following last season's relegation from the Premier League.

Swansea's academy has more than 100 full-time and part-time staff supporting players from primary school age to the under-23s.

Downgrading would have slashed staff and player numbers and reduced the number of coaching hours as well as restricting Swansea's ability to recruit up to the age of 16.

It would have also prevented Swansea playing against fellow elite-level sides, their under-23 team having challenged for the Premier League 2 title under coaches Gary Richards and Cameron Toshack, son of former Swansea manager John.

McBurnie, James, Roberts, George Byers and Joe Rodon have all graduated from that side to play under first-team boss Potter, earning praise in the process.

Potter has supported an emphasis on youth over the past year, which has been brought about following the sale of several senior players and limited transfers in.

Swansea spent a total of £8.5m on academy training facilities in Landore near the club's Liberty Stadium home, which was completed in August 2016 and saw the club granted Category One status.

Top Stories