West Ham United are delighted to announce that the club has been awarded Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP) Category One status.
The Hammers have been placed in the highest tier of Academies in English football following a successful audit by independent assessors earlier this year.
Proposed by the Premier League, the EPPP is a new system aimed at improving all areas of youth football provision, including coaching, education, child welfare and medical care, with the aim of giving young players a greater opportunity to be coached and developed into homegrown stars of the future.
Vice-Chairman Karren Brady and Academy Director Tony Carr MBE spearheaded West Ham's EPPP strategy, with the Board investing more than £1m in helping the Academy of Football to gain Category One status.
The process of gaining Category One status has seen a huge amount of hard work done by the Vice-Chairman, Carr and his staff.
The Academy has grown with the addition of a significant number of full and part-time coaching and medical staff.
The facilities used by the Academy have also been improved, with a stadium pitch and three training pitches developed at Rush Green and the installation of a new gymnasium and classrooms at both Little Heath and Rush Green.
Off the pitch, the club has forged a full-time partnership with Sir Paul Grant, the headteacher at the Robert Clack School of Science in Dagenham, whose superb team of teachers will look after all the Academy's educational needs.
These needs include full-time education provision for young footballers in years ten and eleven, and hybrid provision for teenagers who visit the Academy on day-release programmes during the school year.
West Ham United Joint-Chairman David Gold said: "We are pleased that the independent auditors have seen fit to award West Ham United the top-rated Category One Academy status.
"Having played for the Academy as a youngster and then followed West Ham United for my whole life I know only too well how important it is to the club. So from the moment the new EPPP system was confirmed, it was our Board's absolute priority to make sure our Academy maintained its world-renowned reputation as one of the best in the business.
"The Board were quick to provide Tony Carr and his team with the appropriate funding for the additional resource and facilities they required. I would like to thank Tony and his team of staff, who all worked hard to ensure we achieved our collective aim.
"We will not be resting on our laurels now though, as we will be continuing to invest and grow our Academy even further."
Academy Director Tony Carr said: "I'm absolutely thrilled that we have been awarded Category One status for the 2012/13 season, which is a culmination of months of hard work by a huge team of people. I would to thank all of my staff at the Academy who have put in countless late nights to make sure we achieved the top standing.
"I must also pay tribute to the Board, who have demonstrated their unwavering commitment to West Ham United's Academy by providing the necessary funding for the upgrades to our facilities and staff at Chadwell Heath and Little Heath.
"This award will ensure the steady stream of talent we have coming through from our Academy will continue and we can go on to produce more and more world-class players for West Ham United."