Two-year extension for Academy Manager...
WALSALL FC Academy Manager, Neil Woods has today put pen-to-paper on a two-year contract extension at Banks’s Stadium.
The 46 year-old arrived at the club during the summer of 2011 and has overseen a solid and impressive progression for the youth team, who have suffered just four League defeats in that time.
“Neil is doing a great job,” said Saddlers’ Chief Executive, Stefan Gamble. “He’s brought a wealth of experience and know-how to the club and we are reaping the benefits.
“He has worked extremely hard in recent months to set up our EPPP Academy and this new deal will bring stability and continuity to our Youth Development Programme, which is such a key area for the club.”
Manager, Dean Smith added: “I am delighted that Neil has agreed to extend his stay here. He has continued the production line of young talent coming through into the first-team from myself and Mick Halsall prior to that.
“He has done an excellent job and this new deal is recognition of that. There is another good crop of youngsters coming through this year and that is down to Neil’s hard work and dedication to what is a very important role for the club.”
Woods' playing career saw him represent the likes of Doncaster Rovers, Rangers, Ipswich Town, Bradford City and Grimsby Town.
He earned a reputation as a hard-working striker before hanging up his boots in 2000. After studying for his UEFA A Licence, Woods was appointed Head of Youth at Grimsby in 2003, a position he held until 2009.
During that time, he brought through a large number of players who went on to play for The Mariners' first-team as well as winning both the Midland Cup and Football League Youth Alliance Cup.
In 2009, Woods was appointed first-team manager at Grimsby Town, a position he held until March 2011 before joining The Saddlers three months later.
“I’m really pleased to extend my stay at the club,” he said. “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the first year and-a-half and look forward to the challenges that lie ahead.
“I am very impressed by the way in which this club is run and the ethos of youth team players making it into the first-team.
“A lot of clubs have a youth team just for the sake of it, but here it is to produce players for the first-team, so we’re all working with a purpose.
“The willingness of the manager to give youth its chance in the first-team is refreshing and a positive thing for everyone involved in the youth set-up.”