Morecambe Football Club has been given approval by the EFL and the Premier League for the MFC Academy to graduate from Category 4 to Category 3 status.
The Academy expansion will see talented young players from under 9s through to U16s joining the set-up; which already has an established U18s youth development programme.
Director, Mike Hinchcliffe who oversees the club’s academy programme, said: “I’m delighted that we have received approval to take the youth development programme forward.”
“There has been a great deal of work from Stewart Drummond and his backroom team, to get us to this point. Now we can move things on and get to work on the pitch.”
“We have been greatly supported through our partnership with Lancaster and Morecambe College, whose facilities will be used as the training base for the new Academy intake.”
Shrimps Academy boss Stewart Drummond added: “The expansion of the Academy is about identifying and retaining the best young players in the area and developing them to produce the first-team players of the future. It’s a very exciting opportunity, which will benefit not only Morecambe Football Club, but also the wider community and clubs across the district.”
A number of MFC Academy players have progressed into the first-team squad this season, with Ben Hedley, Steve Yawson, Niall Maher and Luke Jordan all signing professional contracts with the club.
Shrimps boss Jim Bentley added: “This is an exciting step for everyone attached to the club and across the community. Supporters love to see local lads in the club’s colours and it has been a while since we’ve had that here. Developing our Academy is a big step forward and all part of progressing on and off the pitch.”
Wes Johnson, Principal, Lancaster & Morecambe College added:
“Lancaster & Morecambe College (LMC) are committed to support Morecambe Football Club in their move to FA Category 3 status. Working with local partners to develop and improve opportunities for local people and businesses is at the heart of our work as a college and a key factor in our strategy moving forward. As the Academic Partner of Morecambe FC, LMC will provide both educational and resource support to facilitate the progression to FA Category 3 status and initiate the new coaching strategy with the football club. The relationship between our two organisations over the past two decades has been excellent and provided a route for many young footballers to progress into professional level, semi-professional level and Higher Education as a progression from our partnership. We look forward to working with Morecambe FC, a key local partner in establishing high quality football coaching opportunities for our local community. “