Academy plans are a step in the right direction

Academy plans are a step in the right direction

Rob Fielding believes that Port Vale’s plans to gain Academy status show welcome long-term ambition and perhaps gives a hint of Keith Ryder’s ambitions for the club….

Rob Fielding writes…

Rob Fielding has been a Vale fan for 31 years and has been editing OVF since 1996. These are his personal views

I’m delighted with the news that the Valiants are aiming for Academy status. In my view, it demonstrates some welcome long-term planning and maybe even gives a hint of Keith Ryder’s ambitions for the club.

I am sure many fans feel a special pride at seeing a locally produced youngster don the Port Vale shirt and I hope the Academy status, if granted, brings forth many more graduates from the junior ranks.

And of course, the financial benefits to the club are enormous. I’m not talking multi-million pound transfers like that of Nick Powell from Crewe to Man Utd as I think Vale are some way off Crewe’s astonishing production line. But every teenager who graduates to the first-team will be saving the club the cost of buying more established (and therefore expensive) imports and not only that – but those that do not make it help support the burgeoning Stoke-on-Trent non-league scene.

In my view, it is really is a win-win scenario to concentrate on youth development.

Away from football, it will cement Vale’s place as a community-focussed club (only locally based kids can join the scheme) and that will go some way to satisfying the tax payers dismayed by the council’s financial commitment to the club, boost the local area and provide valuable life lessons to local youngsters (the education side includes educating kids on nutrition and good health).

So, it’s good for those outside the club and it’s good news for those who work for the club.

From what I have heard and seen, the people working in the Port Vale youth ranks deserve an enormous amount of credit. Their role is largely unsung, but I’ve heard from family friends who have boys in Vale’s youth ranks that they do a magnificent job.

Let’s hope that their job is made easier by the finances, grants and other assistance that Academy status can provide.

And that’s why I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the Academy application is passed.


  1. I agree that it is a step in the right direction and wholly support your emphasis on the value to the club and the area of locally produced youngsters. However, there are already good players in our youth system who have not been converted into first team players and are not likely to be unless there is a change of attitude, particularly from the management. Crewe’s investment in and devotion to the youth system should be a lesson for all. Incidentally my belief is that “local” in the academy sense means within one hour’s travelling time of Vale Park. If true that covers a vast pool of potential, even if Crewe have first pick, and even Stoke offer youngsters more chance of first team football than Vale.

  2. Finally, an owner with some amition!

  3. Finally – an owner with some ambition!

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