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Ipswich Town and AFC Sudbury no longer in formal partnership but Danny Laws feels both will now be in a better position for the future




A formal partnership between Ipswich Town and AFC Sudbury at youth level will no longer exist from next season – but it is something Danny Laws feels gives both clubs more opportunities.

The link-up with the now League One club was launched four years ago for mutual benefit in youth development.

It saw Ipswich put borderline players from their elite academy into Sudbury’s Eastern Junior Alliance (EJA) sides at under-13 to 16 age groups and providing coaches to train them.

AFC Sudbury v Ipswich Town U23 - Tom Dettmar.Pic - Richard Marsham. (37137987)
AFC Sudbury v Ipswich Town U23 - Tom Dettmar.Pic - Richard Marsham. (37137987)

The Blues then got the say on whether to take them back into their academy, based on their progress.

Despite first-team manager Mark Morsley openly criticising the relationship in December – on the basis of not getting loan players when he needed injury cover for his first team – academy director Laws said both clubs had already met to decide to move in a new direction for 2020/21.

“Both ourselves and Ipswich were wanting to benefit from working with more clubs going forward and therefore not having to work inside that exclusive relationship,” he said.

AFC Sudbury captain Joe Whight plays the ball down the line against Ipswich Town Under-23s. Picture: Clive Pearson (37212255)
AFC Sudbury captain Joe Whight plays the ball down the line against Ipswich Town Under-23s. Picture: Clive Pearson (37212255)

“I have got connections with a number of clubs through my work and it is much better for us and them to have broader relationships.

“It also gives us our own identity as our Youth Development Phase (YDP) for 13-16s had been led by Ipswich.”

He said things had been left on good terms with the club to continue to talk about, and possibly exchange, players.

Ipswich Town’s academy manager, Bryan Klug, echoed Laws’ comments, saying: “There have been benefits for both of us but things change and things move on.”

AFC Sudbury v Ipswich Town U23 - Ben Hunter races through the midfieldPic - Richard Marsham. (37212283)
AFC Sudbury v Ipswich Town U23 - Ben Hunter races through the midfieldPic - Richard Marsham. (37212283)

Laws has since revamped AFC’s YDP programme – which will again include ex-Ipswich captain Carlos Edwards as a coach (U14s) – to include an additional age group at U12s. They will play a year up in the Ipswich & District League.

None of the club’s sides will play in the new Nerf Junior Premier League that takes place on Saturdays as Laws said he did not want to “over coach kids” while keeping them playing on Sundays in the Eastern Junior Alliance leagues.


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