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Birmingham City F.C. Reserves and Academy

Birmingham City F.C. Reserves and Academy are the reserve team and the youth development system respectively of Birmingham City Football Club. The reserve team, established in 1879, played in the Southern Division of the FA Premier Reserve League in the 2007–08 season, but following the first team's relegation from the Premier League, the club decided not to enter a reserve team in any league. The Academy, established in its current form in 1999, trains boys in age groups from under 9s through to under 18s, and runs an Under-18 team which competes in the FA Premier League Academy (South).

Reserves

Birmingham City have had a reserve team since 1879. They played friendly matches until gaining a place in the Birmingham & District League in 1893. In their third season they finished in runners-up spot, an achievement repeated in 1907 and 1921. In 1915 they were runaway winners of the league; in the 34-game season they scored 160 goals, of which Charlie Duncan scored 52. In 1921–22, following the reorganisation associated with the formation of the Third Division North, they joined the Central League, which now consisted of reserve teams of northern Football League clubs. In 1947–48 they lost their place to Barnsley, so joined the Football Combination, the equivalent reserve league for teams in the southern half of the country, rejoining an expanded Central League in 1982.

Since the 1999–2000 season, the league played in by the reserve team has depended on the league position of the club's first team. Relegation for the first team in 2006 meant the reserves dropped out of the FA Premier Reserve League into the Central League for 2006–07; they finished top of the Central Division of that League. Promotion back to the Premier League for the first team meant that for 2007–08 the reserves were placed in the Southern Division of the Premier Reserve League. Birmingham City fields its reserve team in the Birmingham Senior Cup, which it has won on twelve occasions, most recently in 2008 after a 5–0 win over Burton Albion.

Following the first team's relegation from the Premier League at the end of the 2007–08 season, the reserve team was no longer eligible to play in the Premier Reserve League. The option to enter the Central League was not taken up, the club deciding instead not to enter the reserves in a league, but to play only friendly matches and the Birmingham Senior Cup.

The reserve team's playing staff consists of younger players and those on the fringe of the first-team squad, augmented by first-team players recovering from injury and academy players gaining experience. They play most of their matches at Damson Park, the home ground of Solihull Moors; they occasionally play at St Andrew's, for instance when an unusually high attendance is expected.

Academy

In 1996, the directors of Birmingham City dismantled their youth development system in the belief, according to manager Barry Fry, that the Bosman ruling meant "they may invest a substantial sum in producing a player who was then picked off, without cost, by a rival club", and the £250,000 annual saving would be better spent bringing in players from outside. Fry's successor as manager, Trevor Francis, insisted that the system should be reinstated and brought in Brian Eastick to oversee the process; by 1999 the club had met the Football Association's criteria and received a licence to operate an Academy.

Since the youth system was re-established, a number of players have graduated to careers in League football at Birmingham or elsewhere, some examples being Darren Carter, Craig Fagan, Andrew Johnson, Marcos Painter and Mat Sadler. Academy products who have represented their country include Colin Doyle (Republic of Ireland), David Howland (Northern Ireland U-21), Sone Aluko (England U-19), Krystian Pearce (2007 FIFA U-17 World Cup with England U-17), and Aaron Moses-Garvey, whose St Kitts and Nevis U-20 side reached the final qualifying round for the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup and who made his full international debut in February 2008. As of December 2007 the Academy had seven boys representing their country at levels up to under-19.

The current Academy manager is Terry Westley. In 2006–07 he presided over the under-18 side reaching the quarter final of the FA Youth Cup. The Academy teams play their matches at the club's training ground, Wast Hills, at West Heath, south Birmingham.

Players

Reserves

All members of the first-team squad are eligible to play for the reserves, and many do so on an occasional basis when recovering from injury or to keep up match fitness while not playing first-team football. Academy players are also eligible to play for the reserves, and the younger reserves may feature for the academy side. The following players appeared for the reserves in pre-season matches and during the 2008–09 season. Squad numbers, where present, refer to the first team squad; reserve and youth teams do not have squad numbers. Players marked "left the club" did so during the season.

Academy (under-18s)

The following players played for the academy under-18 team during the 2007–08 season.

References

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