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Gillingham Football Club are approved for category three level academy status following successful inspection

By Luke Cawdell
Darren Hare in his Gills days Picture: Barry Goodwin

Gillingham have passed their academy inspection with flying colours.

An external company recently audited the Gills on their ability to deliver category three academy football.

The Gills received a score of 59 out of a possible 64 to claim a top five place among clubs aiming to operate at the same level.

“We’re absolutely over the moon at that and shows what a good ship we run here,” said head of youth Darren Hare.

“It’s something we are immensely proud of as we strive to get the next Bradley Dack and Jake Hessenthaler into the first team – that’s our main task.

“In the last 10 years we have pulled in significant income for the club, with players coming through the system, and it’s certainly something to shout about.”

Professional clubs in England operate in accordance with the Elite Player Performance Plan and there is a four-tier academy system, with top level academies running at a cost of over £2m.

Callum Davies is a product of Gillingham's youth system Pic: Barry Goodwin

Clubs no longer head to a tribunal to decide a player’s fee, as there are certain criteria laid down for the fees paid, dependent on academy status.

A selling club are paid £3,000 a year for every year of a player's development between the ages of nine and 11. The fee per year of £12,500 will then be added for category 3 status between the ages 12-16.

In addition, add-on fees can be paid up to a maximum of £1.3m, if the player makes 100 senior appearances for a Premier League club. Sell-on fees are also imposed.

Hare said: “We are right up there with the best at that level and that acceptance now opens up the route for funding which has been earmarked for the next three years.

“We have to ensure we keep doing what we are good at and keep trying to improve the programme, so that next time they visit they can see improvements.”

Schoolboy development programme manager Bryan Bull put together a large chunk of the presentation, while administrator Kelly Ives and foundation phase lead coach Rob Peck both drew praise from Hare.

“They have done a terrific job,” Hare said. “It’s nice to be the academy manager and get the email of acceptance but they are the ones who deserve the credit.”

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