1st June 2018

Fry explained: “We have recently undergone a full EFL Audit of our Academy standards and on limited resources, we have performed well thanks in no small part to very strong support from Southampton FC and Yeovil College. Having said that we are not complacent as we want to see graduates from our own Academy transition and be able to play EFL standard football.

“With that in mind we will be amending our Academy operations for next season and are also looking to set up an under-21 team for 2019/2020.  

“Setting up these improvements is a very detailed process and has included our own in-house review of our Academy’s football, education and safeguarding practices to ensure we continue to apply the very best standards going forward. We expect to be able to announce the results of our reviews shortly.” 

Fry also gave more insight into the complex relations the club has set up with top level teams when he said: “We have two-way recruitment, coaching and match experience arrangements with top clubs for the different career paths in youth football.

“Our Football Management Team have over the years established several important contacts at clubs such as; Southampton, Swansea, Bournemouth, West Bromwich Albion, Brighton and Everton. These links are important as although Darren and his coaching team have gained a nationwide reputation for preparing Under-23 players to play at a higher level, we do not currently have the competition structure to bring our own 16 to 18-year-old Youth Players through to League Two standards at the end of their basic training programmes.”

Fry underlined how these relationships can help Academy players who are not ready to graduate to EFL football with the Glovers by highlighting the recent example of Joe Tomlinson: “After a discussion between the first team and Academy Managers it was agreed that none of the scholars could immediately transition to the EFL squad this season.

“Without an under-21 team this would normally leave a talented scholar like Joe with few options, but via our exit programme and contacts Joe was given the opportunity of trials at Southampton and Brighton by our Football and Academy Management teams.”

Commenting on social media speculation that the club could have financially benefited by transferring Tomlinson, Mr Fry said: “I am aware that there have been social media comments suggesting Joe had been subject to a six-figure offer from another club before he left us, but that is simply incorrect.

“No offers were received and if we had selfishly held on to Joe’s registration waiting for an offer, this clearly talented player could have seen his football career options limited. It underlines our commitment to our youth players that if they cannot immediately be part of our senior squad, we will find ways to help them progress.” 

The club expect to announce improvements to its Academy for next season during this month.