Redfearn deal ‘will protect Leeds academy’

Leeds United's Neil Redfearn. Picture: Simon Hulme
Leeds United's Neil Redfearn. Picture: Simon Hulme
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NEIL Redfearn is confident that his promotion from Leeds United’s academy will not affect its category two status or weaken the production of first-team players at Thorp Arch.

United’s new head coach claimed a restructuring of staff following his change of position this week would protect a youth-development scheme which he described as “the best category two academy in the country.”

Leeds received that rating under the new Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP) earlier this year, securing annual funding of almost £500,000.

Redfearn has been a central figure at the academy since 2009 and began running operations at Thorp Arch two years ago, taking up the post of development-squad manager following the introduction of EPPP.

He is leaving that role, however, to take control of United’s first team after the sacking of Darko Milanic last Saturday and his new role will see a change in the staffing of the academy.

Redfearn said Adam Underwood, one of Leeds’ performance analysts, would work as academy manager with responsibilities for administrative work, while the club are pondering the option of recruiting a new Under-21s coach. But Redfearn said: “We’re set up quite well already and a lot of positions have changed under the EPPP system.

“We’ll maybe look at bringing an (under-21s) coach in but we’ve got ways of restructuring things simply from within.

“We’ve promoted a lot of people from within and it’s only right that those people carry on doing what they’ve been doing. I’m really proud of what’s been achieved here and I always say we’re the best category two academy in the country. I’m biased but I’d say that.”

Redfearn has agreed a 12-month rolling contract as head coach, though Leeds are yet to officially announce his appointment.

The 49-year-old was taking charge of today’s clash at Cardiff City, supported by goalkeeping coach Neil Sullivan and fitness coach Matt Pears, but he still intends to bring an assistant to Leeds once his own deal is formally in place.

“I’ve got somebody in mind but it was important that I got myself sorted out first,” Redfearn said. “Whoever comes in, I want them coming into settled circumstances.”