Exeter City held a Fans’ Forum at St James Park last night where manager Paul Tisdale explained the club’s long-term aims to a group of supporters.
He was joined by the club Chairman, Edward Chorlton, as well as Vice-Chairman, Julian Tagg, and the CEO, Guy Wolfenden. The evening is summarised as follows:
“It has long been our ethos to bring local players through the academy system up into the first team – look at how players such as Dean Moxey have benefited the club’s progression – but the time is now right to commit fully to this policy in the short, medium and long term,” Paul Tisdale said.
“Of course, the objective of promotion is no less a focus, but to achieve everything that is important to us – winning, promotion, playing attractive football, bringing the youth through – comes at a price – and a risk.
“The Supporters’ Trust and the fans have been – and are – integral to the success of our youth policy and this has borne fruit with the fact we have five home-grown players as first-team regulars and several more on the periphery. The current success of our U21s shows our approach is working and even down through the U16 and U14 players – and younger – that positive situation remains constant. The work being done by our academy therefore makes it far more attractive to commit to this approach by the club than if we were starting an academy from scratch at this point,” he explained.
“Concentrating on building our youth policy around a backbone of experienced players, of course, fits in with our current financial position. It goes without saying that younger players coming through cost less than buying in experienced players and while the club is resolute in its intention not to sell these young players, we must be realistic regarding offers at a certain level which may come in.
“Supporters have always understood and supported local boys learning their trade here at SJP and this commitment now underlines a key moment in our history some 11 or 12 years ago, when despite losing all funding due to relegation to the Conference, time, effort and finance were committed and the club stuck with it. The success of players such as Dean Moxey, George Friend and Dan Seaborne as well as the current exceptional crop are further testament to this.
“There have been many chapters in the club’s progression over the years, not least since the inception of the Trust – teams built by Eamonn Dolan and Alex Inglethorpe in survival mode, teams built to gain double promotions and teams built to achieve our highest-ever league position. We have now arrived at a new opportunity and, being honest, considering our club’s chosen model, there is now a necessity and desire to build a new team and a new chapter in our history.
“We are trying to progress in a massively competitive and financially unequal market in a realistic and sustainable way and, as such, with the backing of all parties – the Trust, board, manager, Grecian groups, volunteers and fans – we need to move forward with this policy,” he concluded. “Now is the time to build a homegrown team.”