Academy upgrade boost 'hopefully very soon,' reveals Wigan Athletic chief

Darren Royle
Darren Royle

Darren Royle insists ‘frenetic work’ has been going on behind the scenes to ensure Wigan Athletic’s academy status is upgraded.

This focus on youth development was a key part of IEC’s blueprint for the future following the takeover last year.

And executive chairman Royle says going up a notch – which would give the Latics youngsters better facilities and better-quality opposition to play against – is a crucial part of the post-Whelan family future.

“There’s been a lot of work going on, some frenetic work, with the academy in the last couple of months,” he revealed.

“Obviously we want to get up to a place where we’re Category Two very soon.

“That would benefit everyone, not least the games programme that’s going to be different to the ones they’ve played in.

“Some of the big local clubs in the Premier League and Championship will be involved in that.

“But it is a huge job that involves working on and investing in the facilities we’ve got to improve them.

“Hopefully we’ll have some good news on that very soon.”

Teenagers Joe Gelhardt, Jensen Weir, Charlie Jolley, Alex Perry, Adam Long and Bobby Jones have been in Spain with the first-team squad.

And Royle says Paul Cook’s faith in the youngsters will be rewarded down the line.

“All credit to Paul and his team, taking so many academy lads out here for the experience,” he added.

“But they were there for a reason – and that’s to try and get those lads game-time with the first team.”