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Promotion vital for so many reasons after Orient reveal future academy plans

PUBLISHED: 16:00 01 April 2019

Former youth-team star Josh Koroma has made more than 100 appearances for Leyton Orient (pic: Simon O’Connor).

Former youth-team star Josh Koroma has made more than 100 appearances for Leyton Orient (pic: Simon O'Connor).

07958 573219 simon.oconnor@virgin.net

The O's youth set-up has produced several players for the club's first-team in recent years

Dan Happe is the latest Leyton Orient academy graduate to attract interest from Football League clubs (pic: Simon O'Connor).Dan Happe is the latest Leyton Orient academy graduate to attract interest from Football League clubs (pic: Simon O'Connor).

Leyton Orient will continue to run their academy set-up next season if the first-team can win promotion.

The club confirmed the plans on March 25 after plenty of speculation over what would happen to all those aged 18 and below currently playing for O’s.

Orient have various age groups associated to the club and in recent times it has truly borne fruit with numerous players making their mark at senior level.

This title revealed in September the club would make a decision on the youth set-up before the current campaign concluded and this has proved the case.

However, the National League leaders have put two options on the table with one dependent on whether they go up this term.

“Following meetings with the Football League, we can confirm that if we regain our Football League status at the end of this season we will continue to run our Category Three academy,” an official club statement read.

“In the event the club does not regain their Football League status this season, the club will lose the right to run an academy as we will have been outside the EFL for more than two seasons and we will no longer be able to partake in the games programme or register players.

“Orient has a proud history in developing youth players and the club are committed to continuing to develop young players and the intention will be to create a bespoke college programme aimed for 16-18 year olds.

“Further details will be provided once the club’s league status is known for next season.”

In February, we looked at all the signs which suggested Orient may close their academy, but this news shows the club are committed to developing more young talent.

Given the success of people like Josh Koroma and more recently Dan Happe, you can see why O’s are keen to retain their category three academy status.

Whether it is rewarding from a financial point of view, though, is hard to truly know and it is a problem posed for many clubs.

Money has been made from the sales of Tristan Abrahams, Sam Dalby and Steven Alzate over the last two years and that’s normally how academies prove worthwhile, but many would point out holding onto Koroma and Happe might be just as key.

Astonishingly, Koroma, 20, recently made his 100th Orient appearance and it highlights what an enormous talent he is.

Yet if O’s didn’t have an academy system in place for people under 16, the attacker may have slipped through the net and not got a chance in the professional game.

A glance at Orient’s squad list on the back of the programme shows 11 players who have at some stage played for the under-18s in recent years – now they are in the first-team.

Many would have first signed for the E10 outfit during their early teenage years and some before that.

It shows why so many feel passionately about O’s continuing to have a youth set up aside from a team for 16 to 18-year-olds.

Edinburgh’s willingness to give youth a chance is another argument for this and if he can take Orient up, he will potentially be able to give more academy graduates their debuts.

There is now more pressure on the first-team to win promotion, but given their recent results, it looks like they can handle it!

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