Kristjaan Speakman on Sunderland's plans to prevent future academy departures
Kristjaan Speakman has again stressed Sunderland's determination to prevent the departure of the club's best academy talent.
The club's new executive regime has put the category one operation at the heart of its model for future success, with Speakman's track record in player development at Birmingham City key to his appointment as Sporting Director.
The executive team recently met with the Supporters' Collective at the latest structured dialogue meeting, at which it was revealed that 21,000 season cards for the 2021/22 campaign had already been sold.
Supporters asked Speakman about the recently released accounts for the 2019/20 campaign, which highlighted the significant income drawn from the sale of players such as Joe Hugill, Logan Pye and Bali Mumba.
Speakman was asked what plans were being put in place to tackle that drain of talent and stressed that it was his responsibility to prove to players and parents that Sunderland was the best place for their development.
Speakman has already undertaken an initial restructure of the academy operation, with former head of coaching Lewis Dickman appointed academy manager and Leann Cowperthwaite appoint head of academy operations.
Speakman also intends to include the academy at the heart of the club's improved data and analytics operation.
The notes from the meeting read: "KS explained clubs run an academy to provide elite opportunity for local players, develop players for playing minutes on the pitch, and to create potential assets.
"Young players will have different reasons for participating at each age. The club has to be aware of individual aspirations and opportunities. There must be a strategy to retain players / parents, be a positive narrative about SAFC role in this and change the recent trend. Many local players want to play for their local club.
"Youth development has to be collaborative and inclusive. The academy must be the right place for each player and players have to be able to see a pathway to success.
"KS has the responsibility to lead a team capable of demonstrating to parents their child is valued by the club and that Sunderland is the right club for them."