The Club has provided the following update for supporters regarding the proposed application for an EFL Academy.
We are very much aware of recent speculation and social media activity around the subject of our Academy application and we feel the need to lay out the facts as we understand them.
The Club was actively looking to apply to the EFL for approval to launch a Category 4 Academy for the 2022/23 season.
This would have involved nine Academy scholars, anticipated to be made up of four from the Furness area and five more from further afield.
A Barrow AFC Under-18 team would have included these scholars and the remaining players would have come from the Barrow and Furness area, but these players would not be part of the Academy.
Significant amounts of work went into this undertaking and, while progress was encouraging, it became clear to the Board in April that we were rushing to meet the application deadline. We had serious concerns with the safeguarding aspects of the plan, as well as material issues at the Club, including the need to source First team training facilities, the vacant First Team Manager role and a lack of a proper Club infrastructure to support the Academy.
We could not, in good conscience, continue and we made the difficult decision to defer the Academy application by twelve months. This gives us time to fully address the Club infrastructure issues and have a stronger resource and safeguarding plan to enable a successful mobilisation.
The EFL has an independent safeguarding company, Barnardo’s, and they conducted a comprehensive two-day formal audit in early May which identified our safeguarding plans as inadequate. They found that we did not meet the standard in four out of the seven basic categories, and we received 31 recommended actions. The audit stated that our deferral was based upon “sound reasoning”.
We believe up to four players were offered provisional contracts based upon a successful EFL application and we are very sorry for any distress caused to them and their families. We also recognise the tremendous amount of work undertaken by Liam Reid, and we hope to leverage that work going forward.
We still remain committed to applying for a Category 4 Academy next year and this project will be led by our Sporting Director, with input from the First Team Manager and staff. We will begin the review and actions associated with the Barnardo’s audit this Summer.