Exclusive: Manchester United move for Crystal Palace academy chief


Crystal Palace academy head of operations and performance director Steve Higham is set to join Manchester United.

Higham joined Palace in January 2017, in part to replace academy manager Ben Smith, who departed to take up a position with the Football League.

Higham was tasked locating a permanent home for the academy since it moved out of the main Beckenham training ground, in order to help push them towards category one status.

The role works alongside academy director Gary Issott, who focuses more on the coaching and recruitment side.

It has been a successful season for the academy. The under-23s and under-18s both came out as winners in the regional section of their respective leagues, while the under-15s were defeated in the regional Floodlit Cup Final by Chelsea, and the under-14s progressed to the quarter-final of the Albert Phelan Cup where they suffered defeat by eventual regional winners Wolves.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Levi Lumeka and Jason Lokilo stepped up from the under-23 side to make their first-team debuts, with Wan-Bissaka also earning a maiden England under-20 call-up.

But after just 18 months at the club, Higham will leave South London this summer to join United.

He previously spent 13 years with the Premier League and his final role before joining Palace was as head of youth operations where he was responsible for implementing the Elite Player Performance Plan.

Palace are set to secure a long-term home for the academy and there is due to be a significant investment which should propel them to reach Category 1 status in the coming seasons.



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