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‘We’re quite a way behind’ – Canaries must catch up to academy rivals

The proposed new academy facilities at Colney, which will be funded by a £3.5m bond scheme. Picture: Norwich City FC

The proposed new academy facilities at Colney, which will be funded by a £3.5m bond scheme. Picture: Norwich City FC

Norwich City FC

Plans to raise £3.5million for new academy facilities at Colney have been unveiled by Norwich City, in a bid to catch up with the standards at rival clubs.

Sporting director Stuart Webber discusses the launch of the Canaries bond, as Norwich City prepare to invest in their Colney Training Centre. Picture: Dennise Bradley Sporting director Stuart Webber discusses the launch of the Canaries bond, as Norwich City prepare to invest in their Colney Training Centre. Picture: Dennise Bradley

City have announced a bond scheme to raise finances for new buildings, dressing rooms and gym facilities to maintain Category One status for the club’s academy.

The plans for the new buildings continue the Canaries’ intentions to try and compete as a self-funded club with Premier League ambitions, with players progressing from the academy a key part of those plans.

“We’re quite a way behind in terms of being an elite academy,” sporting director Stuart Webber admitted. “Let’s not talk about Manchester City or Chelsea, they’re different clubs, but let’s say Wolves or Derby, or even Blackburn who are a League One club, who are Category One academy clubs – I’d say we’re quite a way behind.

“But this brings us to, I think, beyond them really quickly because the best thing we’ve tried to keep as a group of people is, we haven’t said ‘40 pitches, that’s what we need’ or ‘we need 12 pitches for the under-12s’.

“We actually quite like the idea of being smaller, having small staff groups because then you can create a bit of culture, everyone knows each other.

“Some mistakes that some academies have made is that they are too big, so you’ve got someone who works with the under-nines and the under-15s coach doesn’t know who they are. So we want to keep it small but really top-end quality within that.”

With the dated facilities at Colney currently supplemented by a complex of temporary modular buildings which cost around £100,000 a year, Webber believes the improvements would also have knock-on benefits for Daniel Farke’s first team squad.

“Players come to Colney and they’re disappointed,” he continued. “When I’ve shown players around Colney before they’ve looked around and gone ‘oh, is this it?’. Now when we show players round we can show them visually what it’s going to be and then this will all then have a knock-on effect to the first team building as well, as naturally that gets used less we can raise the standards of that because it’s not getting battered as it is now.”

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