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Friday, December 7, 2012
West Brom academy status upgraded

Ian Edwards

Dan Ashworth will leave West Bromwich Albion next year with the club in ideal position after ensuring the club's Academy has been awarded Category One status under the new Elite Player Performance Plan.

• Warburton set to replace Ashworth

Albion's sporting and technical director will move to take up his new role of director of elite development with the Football Association at the end of the season.

He will leave Albion in good shape to develop talent for the future after spearheading the push to earn a three-year licence from the Premier League.

An audit from the Independent Standards Organisation has recognised the work done at the Academy over the last few years and Albion are now in position to attract players from all over England as well as better placed to keep hold of the existing talent in their junior system.

"There has been a continual improvement to the club's Academy over the past eight years and earning Category One status reflects how hard the staff have worked to ensure we have one of the best youth setups in the country," said Ashworth.

"In improving our facilities and employing additional staff, the club have shown we are fully committed to the ongoing improvement of the Academy.

"The staff have worked tirelessly since the summer to achieve Category One status and they should be incredibly proud of themselves.

"The goal now is to produce more home-grown players who are capable of performing in the first team in years to come."

To meet EPPP criteria, Albion have developed their training facilities, appointed additional coaching, medical, sports science, recruitment and operational staff and built a brand new fourth-generation UEFA two-star football pitch.

Academy manager, Mark Harrison, added: "We are delighted to have achieved Category One status on the back of the club's investment in our young players and the Academy as a whole.

"Looking long term, it is important that the club have made this step as the rules and regulations regarding home-grown players are enforced."

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