Change at Weston-super-Mare Football club as college partnership is confirmed

PUBLISHED: 12:30 06 July 2017

Matt Bazell and Jon Haile.

Matt Bazell and Jon Haile.


Changes to the way Weston-super-Mare Football Club's academy is structured are now afoot, with the Seagulls' former football development director saying a new partnership with Weston College is 'the only way the club can survive'.

The football club has today (Thursday) confirmed a new head of academy, as well as a new partnership with Weston College, with more details set to be announced imminently.

Jon Haile returned to the club just over a year ago to take on the role of football development officer but has now decided to move on to pastures new.

He told the Mercury the past season has not been easy but by appointing Matt Bazell, foundation phase manager, as manager of all age groups of the Seagulls’ academy, things are looking up.

In an exclusive interview with the Mercury, Mr Haile said: “It certainly hasn’t been a straightforward season, and after coming back to the club last June I did not envisage what type of season we were going to have or how much work there was to be done.”

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“All football clubs have to reach a level of self- sustainability without having to rely on one sole benefactor.

“Every decision the board has made this season has been for the long term benefit of the football club. As far as the standard of football is concerned, the club is operating at its maximum with the current set up.

“In actual fact it is over achieving because of the backing from Paul Bliss and because a succession of coaches and managers have worked hard to keep the club in the league.

“The only way the club can survive now, and in the future is to work within its means. The club has to become self-sufficient.”

This means the academy is crucial to the running of the club, in Winterstoke Road, and Mr Haile says working with Weston College is the only way the Seagulls will progress.

The players will study at the college and train full-time.

He added: “If our youth team players are to have the best chance possible of coming through and playing for the first team at National League level, then full-time training will help with that.

“We also have to provide these players with the best education opportunities as well, so when they are released from the likes of Bristol City and Bristol Rovers, Weston’s scholarship scheme will be the best option available to them.

“The agreement with the college will not only provide players with education opportunities whilst they train full time but will also provide all of the clubs teams with extra facilities, sport science and analysis support.

“It has taken seven months of talks with the college to get this agreement through and while we would have all liked to have been able to announce it earlier, we had to get every detail right.

“This is such a great opportunity for the club, the college and the town.”

Matt Bazell has been at Weston for the past two seasons, looking after the age groups of under-7s to under-12s and says he is excited by his new role.

He said: “I am an incredibly enthusiastic and progressive coach who always models sessions around the FA4 corner module, last season I mentored Syd Camper, our current under-12s manager, and the team went on to have a very successful season playing exciting, dynamic and entertaining football.

“You always see me in attendance at home games as I am a huge fan of the club and consider it is massively important to see what the first team is doing, in order for it to progress down to all of the age groups.

“I was delighted at the appointment of new manager Marc McGregor as I was fortunate enough to attend a youth module course with Marc several years ago. I feel really positive about Marc’s appointment and know that his style of play will suit the squad and fans alike.

“I am absolutely delighted to be given the opportunity to manage the academy and look forward to working closely with all of the coaches, parents, and support staff behind the scenes.”

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