Jason Blake has been appointed as the Academy Manager at Turf Moor ahead of next season’s introduction of the new Youth Academy structure in England.
Blake had been acting Head of Youth following the departure of Martin Dobson earlier this season.
And his appointment has now been confirmed as the permanent head of the Clarets’ new-look youth set-up.
Under the new Elite Player Performance Plan, Burnley will be granted Academy status from one of four categories with Blake overseeing the development of players from ages five to 21 through improved strategies in coaching, recruitment, sports science and medicine.
And the 35-year-old, who joined Burnley last summer after previously working in the youth departments at Reading, Southampton and Bournemouth, is looking forward to writing a new chapter in the Clarets’ proud history of producing home-grown talent.
“Burnley Football Club has a renowned tradition of producing talented young players throughout the years. It’s a massive component of what the football club is and what people identify it by,” said Blake.
“This season has added greatly to the club’s reputation for youth development, with the progress to the FA Youth Cup semi-final and the individual development of many of the youth team squad into the first-team environment.
“Due to these factors when we are now looking to try and recruit players they are considering us above some of the bigger clubs in the Premier League because they see there is a route to play first-team football, which is important for us.
“We have a great opportunity to be competitive when recruiting both local and international players because the first-team manager has shown he will give players a chance, regardless of age.
“There are a lot of clubs that have very well-run youth programmes, but for various reasons young players may not get the opportunity to progress to their first team.
“With Steve Hewitt, Cameron Howieson, Shay McCartan and Joe Jackson all recently making their first-team debuts, we have highlighted that the pathway exists if players have both the ability and the correct attitude.”
Blake added: “When you are involved with a youth department or an Academy and you know that the production of young players is part of the tradition and values of the club it makes a positive difference.
“Our Academy staff have important knowledge and experience of what it is like to play for Burnley so they understand the core principles of the club’s footballing philosophy.
“We know that what we are trying to achieve as a department is valued and we know the club, the manager and the supporters believe in it.
“So it means every member of staff, full-time, part-time or voluntary, parents, players, and everyone who is associated with the youth operation, knows they are contributing to the club’s proud history of youth development.”
Blake will continue to lead a team including Terry Pashley and Andy Farrell, who coach the full-time under-18 squad which this season took the Clarets to the last four of the FA Youth Cup for the first time in 34 years, Head of Recruitment Jeff Taylor, Education and Welfare Officer Pat McKiernan and Youth Development Coaches John Francis and John Mullin.
He will also continue to coach the Clarets’ Development Squad and Reserve team as he combines his duties in the office and on the training pitch.
“Under the new Elite Player Performance Plan structure, the Academy philosophy must include an Under 21 player development strategy,” added Blake, who is spending part of the summer working towards completing his UEFA Pro Licence.
“The existing Development Squad programme enables a smooth transition for the inclusion of this age group.
“With the EPPP’s modernisation of administrational structures, Academy Managers need to be comfortable in both the office and coaching environments.
“I am looking forward to attending the Pro Licence as it supports Managers and Coaches with ‘off the field’ components. I am sure the course will contribute to my performance as Academy Manager.”