London City Lionesses has received approval from the Football Association to launch a Tier One Professional Game Academy (PGA).
The Club will provide elite-level academy provision from a new training centre in Kent, improving the professional pathway available to young players in the region ahead of the 2023-24 season.
With a Tier One license, London City Lionesses will develop Under-21 and Under-16 squads.
The FA unveiled a revitalised player pathway for the women’s game in February 2023, transforming player development programmes across the country.
PGAs will replace the current FA WSL Academies, with sixteen tier one licenses made available to Barclays Women’s Super League and Barclays Women’s Championship clubs.
The Club is thrilled to secure tier one approval from the FA, which will provide funding for London City’s Under-21s and Under-16s.
Head of Business Compliance & Operations Lewis Timms said: “It’s fantastic news as it fundamentally shows our level of professionalism and desire to become a football hub where young women can progress and follow the pathway from the youth age groups all the way through to the first team.
“With the Club moving to a new facility, which will be our day-to-day base, we are now in a position to take youngsters all the way through their junior career with the aim of turning them into first team players.
“I think that it really shows that the Club is moving in a strong direction and will hopefully achieve promotion in the future to add to that status.”
London City Under-21s will enter a newly-launched league for PGAs, while the Under-16s are set to compete in the Junior Premier League.
The FA’s new development pathway structure comes after a three-year review of the current system and has been designed to ensure that it provides a wide and diverse pool of players who will graduate to senior football.
Under-21s Head Coach Luke Thomas-Arayo said: “It is a great opportunity to be part of the restructured youth pathway and for us to professionalise our academy with the aim of developing players who will hopefully be able to play first team football for London City.
“We are really fortunate to be one of the only programmes based in Kent, which provides us with the opportunity to develop our links with the region and access the local talent pool. That will not only benefit London City, but also the entire talent pathway in England.
“It’s incredibly exciting to have the opportunity to develop a pathway that will allow young players to come through and have the chance to play for the first team. I think this project will be invaluable to the Club, allowing us to create a sustainable future for the Lionesses.”
Added Interim Head Coach Nikita Runnacles: “The Club is only four years old, so it’s so important that we progress and grow every season. We’ve had a player development pathway in process over the last couple of seasons and we always felt that it could become more elite.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity for us to have a PGA, with our goal to bring youngsters through the system and into the first team. It shows that we have a pathway that is exciting and will allow players to stay for a long time.”