Shutdown: Huddersfield’s Academy Closer Makes Sense

The state of the England national team is often lamented with good cause, with fans and experts alike citing a lack of English youngsters coming through Premier League club’s academies and into the respective first-team pictures as great cause for the Three Lions’ perennial bi-annual summer disappointments. On Friday, top flight new boys Huddersfield Town announced the demoted status of their Academy, but should they be indicted with hatred or revered for such a bold step?

First and foremost, Huddersfield Town is a business. Its owner, the ever-popular Dean Hoyle is a business owner whose principle concern is to turn a profit, only thereafter followed by his desire to be seen as a God in the eyes of all Terriers fans. However, his latest decision is not one that has gone down so well with all supporters of the West Yorkshire club.

Huddersfield’s Academy, to put it bluntly, has not been that successful. Current Notts County striker Jon Stead is the only fully homegrown player to have come through the Patrick Stewart-supported club to have played in the Premier League since 1999. With 14 top-flight goals to his name, it’s hardly the stuff of legend.

Fellow graduates Jack Hunt and Alex Smithies are Championship regulars for Sheffield Wednesday and Queens Park Rangers, respectively, and that is about as far as the success stories go for players to have come through the ranks which will now disappear as Town revert to Category IIII status, meaning just Under-18 and Under-23 teams will now be run by the club.

Hoyle called scrapping all age groups up to under-18s as the ‘hardest he has had to make’ in his eight years as Chairman, with fans and particularly families of those affected upset that the ‘family’ club has made such a callous conclusion for their kids.

The comeback to that the best way to learn is from our own mistakes. Huddersfield’s Academy has simply never been good enough to nurture talent and if the age groups up to 18, they will have been handed a professional contract with the club a la Jordan Williams – who was handed his first-team debut in the Carabao Cup in August – as well as three others or, they will be picked up by academies who can serve them better.

While on the surface, this is a decision which flies in the face of everything that Huddersfield stand for, the antithesis to modern day Premier League football, the relic for old town fans surrounded by goal celebration music and prawn sandwiches, this is a decision that while smarting upfront, will pay dividends for all involved.

Hoyle will stop spending his money on an Academy which too often bears fruitless, the youngsters will be able to show their talent with clubs more able to progress them as professionals, and the fans who are stinging right now will soon forget about that if their first team continues to pick up points in the Premier League. After all, just as Hoyle’s first priority is to make money, the fans just want to win, regardless of academy graduates in the team.