Stockport County has taken over the ownership and management of The Professional Football Academy, developed by Alan Lord. Alan will remain in operational control and will continue to be supported by County boss Jim Gannon.
It will now be known as the Stockport County Pro Football Academy, with Alan Lord continuing as Head of Youth Development.
The academic provision for players within the Academy will be transferred from Bradford College to Stockport College this summer, with a new HNC course added to the current Extended Diploma courses which will enable players to spend an extra year being developed by the club.
This deal, brokered by County Director Steve Bellis with Alan Lord and Stockport College, is the culmination of twelve months of negotiations and planning to reach a successful conclusion for all parties concerned.
Chairman Richard Park said: “This has been a long-term goal for the Board of Directors as part of our Five-Year Plan and we are delighted to be able to bring the development of young players back in-house, under the continuing guidance of Alan Lord, who is widely recognised as one of the best in the business.”
Director Steve Bellis said: “This new agreement strengthens the club and forms a key part of our plan to engage more with the local community as we establish a new partnership with Stockport College. It also gives us more protection over our young talent. We have spent the best part of a year putting this agreement together and we are all excited about seeing it come to fruition this summer.”
The management and delivery of the education provision and associated pastoral care will be the responsibility of Stockport County in partnership with Stockport College, whilst the management and delivery of the football provision and associated pastoral care will be under the direction of Alan Lord.
Alan Lord said: “I’m delighted we’ve been able to strike this deal – it will give me more time to focus on developing young players and it will also make us much stronger from a recruitment perspective as talented young players will know they are coming into an Academy under the wing of Stockport County Football Club. I would particularly like to thank Steve Bellis for all his work in bringing this deal to fruition, as it will only serve to benefit the football club and create even more opportunities for our emerging young talent.”
The agreement only applies to full time players/students enrolled into the Academy, and does not include the Saturday morning Development Centre for 12 – 15 year olds operated by Alan Lord at Cheadle Heath Nomads, which remains with Alan Lord.
In 2016/17, the Pro Football Academy ran four squads, all underpinning County’s Under-21 Development Squad. They included an Under-18 Youth Development squad, two Under-18 ‘Floodlight’ squads and an Under-19 National Alliance squad, with players training every day.
The academic qualifications are recognised by UK universities and students who don’t immediately proceed to full-time football can follow a range of career pathways including physiotherapy, coaching and sports science.
The new deal will also generate additional revenue for the football club, which will be reinvested into the footballing side of the business.