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Cirencester Academy diminished by financial cuts

The Cirencester Academy, the first of its kind in the country, is facing major financial cutbacks.

The pioneering joint initiative between Cirencester Town and Cirencester College, which has run for more 20 years, will be much diluted in the forthcoming season, as a result of a cost-cutting exercise.

The college will continue to run two male teams and one female team but for midweek inter-college football only. They will no longer contest the showpiece Saturday league against academies from Football League and Conference clubs.

The Academy train and play at Cirencester Town, using facilities, including the indoor arena, which are the envy of most non-league clubs. And next season the club are installing a 3G artificial pitch.

A college statement read: "Cirencester College has taken the decision to adjust the current format of the Football Academy Programme as previously advertised for September 2017.

"We are sorry that strategic and financial constraints have led us to this decision and we are doing all we can to minimise the effect on our students.

"Our paramount aim is to provide our footballers with an excellent academic education alongside a full football development scheme."

Among the colleges' costs are the salaries of director of coaching Steve Lowndes, the former Wales international and UEFA A licence coach, and his assistant Will Morford.

When questioned by The Standard on Tuesday, the college's vice principal Libby Reed was unable to offer any assurances about the future of the two men. She said: "We have to be careful how we spend our money and we will no longer be able to run our Saturday teams.

"No decisions have yet been made about Steve or Will, but we have written to all students from September 2017 to tell them about changes to the advertised programme."

Cirencester Town chairman Steve Abbley created the blueprint for the Academy in the first year of his tenure (1995/6) along with Dave Hockaday, subsequently manager of Leeds United, and Cirencester College head Nigel Robbins. Abbley described the college's commercial decision as inevitable.

"The Academy has been a resounding success when judged by how our model was copied all over the country," he said.

"It was never about finding Premiership footballers, but about giving 16 to 18-year-olds the chance to carry on their education while considering the possibilities of a professional football career.

"We became double national college champions (1997 and 1998) and a number of our graduates like Scott Bartlett, Wayne Turk and Scott Griffin went on to have long, honourable careers in non league football.

"James Constable and Stuart Nelson were among those who played at a higher level.

"Now the competition is much greater and the college is suffering in comparison with vibrant newcomers like Hartpury.

"It is fair to say that in the last seven or eight years our two enterprises have moved apart. Ciren College has decided to retreat and cut back. I understand that and I think it is inevitable, but it doesn't mean I don't feel sad.

"What is also sad is that they will no longer have a team eligible for the FA Youth Cup, in which we famously lost to Sunderland at the Stadium of Light in 2008/9.

"As a club we want two teams at every age group so we will now have to actively put together our own U18 side."

This entry was posted on 29 March 2017 at 14:56 and is filed under Miscellaneous | Academy. You can leave a response here.

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