Oldham Athletic have retained their category three status, claiming top marks following the Elite Player Performance Plan audit in March.The EPPP is run by the Professional Game Board and they categorise all football clubs, from Premier League to League Two.
Academies are independently audited and given a category status of one to four, with one being the most elite. Up to 10 different factors will be considered in the grading including productivity rates, training facilities, coaching, education and welfare provisions.
The higher a club's category, the more funding a club will receive and the EPPP will see the Premier League and FA invest more central income than ever before in Youth Development programmes across the country.
Latics applied for category three status and after a gruelling four-day audit, the Professional Game Board awarded the football club top marks.
Youth team manager Tony Philliskirk explained: "The EPPP is split into four categories, with catagory one usually teams like Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City. We applied to category three based on the facilities we have and that's what most teams are at this level. Over 50 clubs applied for category three.
"We produced over 3,000 paper documents so that shows how much hard work went into it to back up everything we were saying. We got our final mark at the end of last season and we knew what the score was but we waited for verification.
"We received that last week and I'm happy to announce that we retained our category three status which is very good and also we were told that we were one of the top three in the country.
"A lot of those marks were based on productivity in the past. That includes players that we have brought through the youth system here.
"We have been given a strong recommendation to apply for catagory two and they said that there is only three clubs out of the whole of the catagory three's they have given that recommendation. We can't do that however because you need a minimum of four of your own pitches which we just haven't got so we are realists."
Philliskirk was understandably pleased for his staff and praised them for all their hard work to making it such a success.
"The score we got was a very high score and I couldn't be more proud of my staff for their hard work. Everybody deserves massive credit for what they have done and everyone is massively pleased," the youth team manager admitted.
"It just shows that we are a good team to come to as has been proven. Players will get coached well and the powers that be have given us a massive thumbs up and we should be very proud of what we have achieved."