Town’s youth policy earns international recognition

Luton Town’s reputation for developing young footballers has been internationally recognised in a major report into the production of players plying their trade at clubs in the top five leagues in Europe, writes Mike Simmonds.

Hatters were the only recognised non-league side mentioned in the study – lying in 18th place among all English clubs and 143rd out of the 805 clubs around the world listed in the CIES Football Observatory study.

They are also above six Premier League clubs in the table, Norwich, Stoke, QPR, West Brom, Wigan and Fulham, while only three Championship clubs have supplied more players.

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The study qualifies a ‘product’ as a player who has spent three years in a club’s youth development programme between the ages of 15 and 21, and are currently playing in the top divisions in England, Spain, Italy, Germany and France.

Town’s four ‘primary products’ are Matthew Taylor, now at West Ham, Southampton’s Kelvin Davis, Wigan captain Emmerson Boyce and Leon Barnett at Norwich.

Hatters’ track record has continued to flourish despite operating without any funding for youth development since May 2011.

Striker Cauley Woodrow is impressing at Fulham, while Dave Moli and Tarum Dawkins earned moves to Liverpool and Arsenal respectively.

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Brothers Jay, Cole and Rio Da Silva also signed for Chelsea and manager Paul Buckle said: “It’s a really tough balancing act to try and get players through when you’re at a club like Luton because we’re going for so many things.

“We’re trying really hard to get out of this division which is a really unforgiving league and I think it’s testament to the youth set up.

“The club are really keen on the youth side of things and I’ll only enhance that because I believe in the youth policy.”

For the full story, see the Luton News/Dunstable Gazette on sale now, while for all the latest Luton Town FC news, reports, stats, player profiles, live match updates, MOM poll, prediction table and a complete fixture list, visit our Hatters Microsite.