Brentford will reopen their academy after Premier League clubs voted through a rule that dictates every member must operate one by the start of the 2024-25 season. The new youth development regulations were agreed last month by clubs at the league’s annual general meeting and Brentford are taking steps to ensure they adhere.
Brentford controversially closed their category two academy in 2016 on the grounds that running costs of about £2m a year meant it equated to bad business. Their switch to a B-team model, which develops players aged 17-21 and has its own games programme, has been highly successful. Their previous structure was also exploited by elite clubs who signed their best youngsters on the cheap.
Brentford are keen to continue with their B team and although it is unclear when they will relaunch their academy they plan to meet league rules, which stipulate that top-flight clubs are required to operate a category three academy by the start of the 2024-25 campaign. Further details on changes to youth development rules are expected this year amid a review into the elite player performance plan, introduced in 2012 with the aim of producing more and improved homegrown players.
More than 20 players from Brentford’s B team have graduated to the first team, including Marcus Forss and Mads Roerslev. Huddersfield and Wycombe have since introduced productive B teams.
Chris Mepham was Brentford B’s most notable success, sold to Bournemouth for £12m in 2019. Last summer they signed Daniel Oyegoke from Arsenal and Matthew Cox, who recently helped England Under-19s to the European Championship title, from AFC Wimbledon. As it stands, Cox will start the season as understudy to the first-choice goalkeeper, David Raya.