The founders and directors of Unita, a local based facilities management company, have taken the reigns at Ossett Albion in a move which sees the EVO-Stik North club inherit a ready-made football academy with 150 stars of tomorrow currently enrolled.
John Chidlaw MD of Unita and now Chairman of Albion started the Unita football academy with wife Emma and business partner Lee Summerscales earlier this year with the intention of providing the most professional coaching in the region and ultimately creating a player pathway for children in the area to progress into professional football. Hiring professional coaches, operating out of a fully functioning academy site based at Warrenside in Huddersfield the academy boast over 150 kids from ages 5-16 plus a senior development team who play in the county Senior League. Overseen by A Licence coach and Huddersfield Towns former head of youth development Dave Haley, Andy Welsh former Sunderland midfielder and recently head of coaching at Wigan and Phil Smith ex Sheffield Wednesday Academy and USA under 18’s Olympic Development coach, the academy arguably has a wealth of knowledge, experience and ability to provide its students with some the best coaching anywhere in country.
The academy will act as a feeder to Ossett Albion and provide the club with a structure it and many clubs in the non-league system have never had before. On top of that Dave Haley and Andy Welsh take over as first team manager and head coach respectively whilst Phil Smith will provide support and oversee the running of the academy and its player development pathway.
In a time when high profile non league takeovers are a trend the management are keen to emphasise that they are not like other owners and egos have no place in this set up. “Lee Emma and John are not in this for status or ego boosting, we are all here primarily to provide a route to success for our academy players. One that sees them graduate our programme and move onto other clubs further up the league or stay with us and progress into our first team where we will see the success of our own coaching provide Ossett Albion with young new talented players ready to perform at whatever level we ask them to.” Said Phil Smith, Unita Academy Manager.
“We have spent the summer creating something quite special at Warrenside and the natural progression for us was to become a club and compete as high up the footballing ladder as possible.” Said Chidlaw. “When we made an enquiry to our local non-league team Ossett Albion as to the possibility of partnering up and seeing if there was any common ground it became apparent very fast that more than a partnership could be possible. “
Wasting no time the Chidlaws and Summerscales met with Ossett owners and started to discuss a take over. “Dominic and Simon were very keen to learn of what we had in mind for Ossett Albion and how we would go about it. Their primary concern was ensuring we were serious, able and wanting to operate with the best interest of the club. Ossett are my local team, I’ve watched them play at Dimplewells for some time and now I can bring a new lease of life into the club with the support of the Unita Academy, its staff and more importantly its players . You are about to see something very special happen here…” Added John Chidlaw.