Cherries boss Gary O’Neil says it “would be massive” for the club to upgrade the status of its academy and that “the long term plan for the football club is a fantastic one” but admits the catchment area is limited.
Currently, Bournemouth only meets the standard of a category three academy and as a result the club are unable to produce the standard of player required to play in the Premier League.
O’Neil, a former Liverpool under-23 coach, knows well the importance of developing youth players and knows just what it would mean to a club like Bournemouth to have an academy that can help to attract and produce players of a much higher calibre.
Speaking to BUZZ NEWS, O’Neil said: “It would be massive for us, I have worked at a top, top academy at Liverpool. Incredible facilities, incredible level of players they manage to attract – obviously it is different here.”
It is not only the status of the club’s academy that puts Bournemouth at a disadvantage, but the mere geographical location is somewhat of a problem for the club too.
With the Dorset side nestled on the coast and bordering the New Forest there are areas nearby that just don’t produce players, something O’Neil also takes into consideration: “The sea takes up a lot of the recruitment area as well for Bournemouth, obviously there is a circle around you that you can recruit from.
“Quite a lot of it is forest and quite a lot of it is the sea – so it is difficult – but improving the category would be huge for us.
“The long term plan for the football club is a fantastic one, I think it is really exciting times.”
Whilst O’Neil acknowledges the good work already being done at academy level, the head coach revealed his priorities still lie elsewhere, predominantly focused on the club’s Premier League campaign and avoiding relegation.
“Obviously for me the short term is the main focus at the minute, but there are some great things in place with the academy and as you have seen last season the impact JZ (Jordan Zemura) and Jaidon (Anthony) had, even Travs (Mark Travers).
“To produce even a few is massive for a football club, it saves you so much money on going out and recruiting others, and it has a special feeling with the fans when you produce your own.”
He added: ” I came through at Portsmouth, you have a really good relationship with the fans when you come through the youth team.”
However, when asked by BUZZ NEWS about whether or not any current academy players could make the step up into the first team if called upon, O’Neil responded fairly candidly: “I think it is a big ask for a Cat 3 academy to produce Premier League players, I think it is a real big ask.
“They do a great job at the academy and we have great coaches, some great young kids.
“A few of them trained with us today, but as I say the long term plan is important because there is no magic wand, it needs to be done properly and in the right way and that is what , now under Bill the new owner, the club are looking to do.