Burnley Football Club is delighted to confirm Jonathan Pepper as Academy Manager.
Jonathan, whose previous role was a project manager for the Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP) audits within Academies, will initially drive the club’s ambition to achieve Category Two status this season.
The 43-year-old’s role is also to oversee the Academy and raise standards with the department with the overall aim of progressing young players through to the first team.
Jonathan explained: “My job for the last four and a half years has been going around the county doing the independent EPPP audits, from Category 1 to 4.
“I was part of the process of writing the audit tool, so I am very familiar with what’s needed to meet the EPPP and Premier League requirements.
“The role here is to oversee the movement towards Category Two Status, which is a big thing for the club.
“It has been operating at a Category Three level and pumping money in at a reasonable level above that level, but the facilities in place didn’t meet that criteria.
“Naturally the development work being undertaken at the Barnfield Training Centre will see that put in place early next year.
“That will enable us to meet Category Two, possibly even Category One, and then my work will be to start raising the standards in the Academy in all different departments.”
EPPP, a result of consultation between the Premier League and its clubs, representatives of the Football League, the Football Association and other key football stakeholders, is a long-term strategy with the aim of developing more and better home-grown
Within the plan there are four categories; one being the highest. The higher the category the more investment is required and the standard of the games programme, at all levels, is higher.
Jonathan, who was previously Academy Coach at Nottingham Forest (2008-12) and Academy Manager at Bradford City (2002-2008), added: “It’s quite a big operation now here at Burnley, including Sports Science, Medical, Education, recruitment, and a big coaching department.
“We have 20+ full time staff, plus a number of part time staff, so it’s actually one of the bigger departments within the club and we need to be working effectively and raising the standards, which will eventually, hopefully, start a production line of players coming through the system.”
Attaining Category Two status is crucial to the Clarets’ ambition to raise the level of games’ programme for younger players.
The £10.6m development of the club’s training centre will help provide the infrastructure for improvement.
And Jonathan, who also carries a UEFA A Licence and is currently studying for a Masters’ Degree in Sports Coaching, appreciates the work already underway in looking to secure a bright future.
He said: “I’ve been made to feel very welcome and the staff in the Academy are eager and keen to gain knowledge and guidance in best practice.
“Some of it requires simple knowledge and some requires investment. Obviously the club are investing heavily in that facility at Barnfield, when that could quite easily have been put towards a couple more players for the first team, so you have to commend the strategic approach from the Board to wanting to leave a legacy from the Premier League years, however long that may be.
“Hopefully, it’s for a long period of time, but if you do fall out, you have then used that money wisely and the infrastructure is there for years to come.
“There are lots of examples of other clubs where that hasn’t happened and the money hasn’t been used wisely, but I think here there is a lot of learning from other club’s mistakes that we need to have that infrastructure in place and support the work of the first team.”