Pools awarded Category 3 Academy statusHartlepool United's Centre of Excellence has recently changed its status and will now become the Hartlepool United Academy.
The change of name is to fall into line with the Premier League-driven Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP).
Premier League and Football League youth departments are now ranked from Category 1 to Category 4; Category 1 being that of the club in question having the best facilities possible and large investment to be able to employ large numbers of staff.
The lowest category which is Category 4 only allows a club to run an Under 18 team and have a small department, which would limit recruitment of players.
At Hartlepool United, with investment from IOR, and a lot of hard work producing evidence and documentation, we have been granted status to run as a Category 3 academy for the 2012/13 season.
This allows us to continue with the Under 9's to Under 16's age group teams and also an Under 18s youth squad.
The EPPP is being driven by the Premier League to promote and produce better English players who will eventually go on to play for the national side.
One of the criteria which had to be met was the quality of facilities and at Hartlepool United we had to move our Academy training site to Dyke House Sports and Technology College.
The site has an all-purpose 3G pitch and surrounding grass pitches which will enable us to give the youth players the best chance possible.
We are truly grateful to Manor College of Technology who hosted our department for many years and would like to thank them for all their support over the time we spent with them.
Only time will tell whether the EPPP will have an effect on the development of youth players but at Hartlepool United, we will continue to work as hard as possible to ensure we produce players for the First Team.