As revealed last month, the Club has been awarded an Elite Academy Licence.

Since that day, work is well underway to establish a complete pathway programme for aspirational rugby league players in the local area.

The Development Academy, Rising Stars programme, the innovative REDS Programme and a remodelled Reserves’ set-up will allow us to build on already firm foundations.

With some key additions, including the recently advertised Head of Youth position, the Club will be able to create an environment that is attractive to any young player.

This is not just a step-forward for the Club, but something that will benefit the entire City of Salford.

As those changes are put in place, here are some of the major benefits this license will bring:


Ultimately, retaining the best talent in the city will allow the club to develop and supplement our first-grade squad.

There are several players currently in the Betfred Super League, Championship and League 1 who began their careers in our previous youth development system.

The likes of Niall Evalds, Stefan Ratchford, Jake Bibby and two-time Lance Todd winner – and current Man of Steel leader – Marc Sneyd all graduated under the previous licence.

The ultimate goal is to see more of these players representing Salford Red Devils on a regular basis.


As a club, we proudly represent our city and our community. This pride is shared by every person who wears the badge, on and off the field.

It is critical that we reflect our community in our values, attitudes and behaviours.

The RED Thread is the DNA of our club, and we ensure every player coming through our pathway programme understands the privilege of representing Salford Red Devils.

In addition to training and development linked to rugby league, our education provision is centred on developing good people first, as well as athletes.

In addition to the academic aspects of our Education Curriculum, ‘The Salford Way’ will be focused on developing character through mental toughness, personal development programmes and pastoral/academic support.


Already in place are several highly qualified individuals who have worked extremely hard to get us to this position.

We believe that by supplementing that, we can create a successful environment for every aspiring athlete. Players within that pathway will now have access to an environment of excellence, which they are immersed in to develop as players and people.

In designing the programmes for the academy, there has been a complete focus on ensuring that a common approach is transferred throughout the club from the first team right through to our player pathway programmes.

That ensures all players from the Salford Red Devils Emerging England Programme, Academy and Reserves receive the same development diet as our first team squad.

This also ensures young players receive the best possible support to progress through the Pathway Programme to representing the club in Super League.


The Club and the Salford Red Devils Foundation, supported by the Salford Rugby League Strategy, will further enhance the Building the Future programme.

We have a strong relationship with all our Community Clubs, which are based upon increasing participation in the sport, player and coach development, and a mechanism to identify local talent to join our Pathway Programme.

We have very strong links throughout our Schools and Community Clubs, and we will work closely with all of them to identify talented young players, as well as supporting coach and player development.

This will be across all five clubs: Salford City Roosters, Cadishead Rhinos, Westhoughton Lions, Langworthy Reds and Folly Lane.


Ryan Brierley believes players like Kallum Watkins can be an inspiration to up and coming young talent in our newly-awarded Elite Academy.

Today’s announcement is a massive step in the right direction for the entire club, with plans to build on the already strong infrastructure in place and nurture young, local talent into players who could one day represent Salford Red Devils.

One of our Own, Ryan Brierley didn’t come through the ranks at the club, but knows just what it means to represent his boyhood team – and wants others to have the same experience.

Speaking exclusively to our YouTube channel, the fullback was asked how he feels to see a new generation of players now given the opportunity to progress through their grassroots clubs’, into the Red Devils’ Elite Academy.

“I think that’s the exciting thing when you’re looking behind your shoulder, there’s people trying to take your shirt – and there’s a pathway there to take that,” he said.

“We’ve probably felt guilt over recent years that we’ve not created many youngsters, but I think if you look at our captain, Kallum Watkins, it shouldn’t have taken him that long to end up back at Salford, he should’ve been here a lot sooner.

“People can aspire to be people like Kallum, who is an England international and is now the club captain.

“I know as a young kid that you always focus on your idols; not so much teams, but you focus on certain players.

“I think our club captain is a perfect example of someone who kids can look up to, idolise – and I suppose it’s an exciting opportunity from top looking down to see the young kids coming through, and want to play for Salford.

“I think that’ll be the big difference in having a pathway. Not many kids idolise or want to play for Salford, but I’d love to change that narrative and now we’ve got our own academy, that can start to happen.”

To see our full chat with Ryan, click below.


Salford Red Devils are excited to confirm that the Club has been awarded an Elite Academy Licence.

Securing the Elite Academy Licence is a significant piece of the jigsaw and efforts since the Club’s previous application have sought to reaffirm that.

Since 2021, the Club have invested into a strong pathway programme through the REDS, Development Academy and Reserves Programmes – with 26 players having secured professional contracts. Whilst key appointments have strengthened the pathway, with first class personnel already in the system, this already strong infrastructure will now be built upon.

The Aims of the Academy are as follows:

  • Creating an environment of excellence for young players to develop and progress to represent Salford Red Devils in the Super League.
  • Developing people first in “The Salford Way”, with a top rate personal development and welfare programme.
  • Driven by innovation.
  • One Club – “The Red Thread” permeating through every aspect of the Club.
  • Ensuring all players respect the balance between Rugby League, Education and being ‘Future Ready’.
  • Producing at least five players for the Salford Red Devils First Team squad in 5 years.

In tandem with the incoming Rugby Strategy for Salford, the Elite Academy Licence supports the ethos of the RED Thread – the core values of the Club. Together, they connect that young child lacing up their boots for the first time with the first-team star pulling on the shirt and representing Salford.

Managing Director, Paul King said:

“I am delighted with the decision to award the Club an Elite Academy Licence. It is outstanding news for everyone involved with the bid, and pivotal in our strategy to drive the Club forwards.

“Today’s announcement is recognition and a deserved reward for the hard work not only put into this bid, but also in to laying the foundations for its success since 2021.

“Those foundations have already enabled so much, and now the licence gives us an opportunity to build on them and develop elite players that no longer have to leave our City in order to pursue a career in rugby league.”

Speaking on the Club’s previous application in 2021, Paul Trainor, Director added; “We chose to use that as a catalyst to create a first-rate player pathway coaching team creating a system which develops great people as well as great rugby players.

“Our Academy programme will ensure that the players coming through the club will understand what it means to represent the City of Salford as well as our club, demonstrating our “Red Thread” core values as an ambassador of the club.  

Over the past three years, our Rising Stars, REDS, Development Academy and Reserve Team pathways have produced 26 players who have gone on to be rewarded with professional contacts, either at Salford Red Devils or at other clubs.

Ian Blease, Director of Rugby Operations said;

“This is a sign of the quality of our system, which the Elite Academy will enhance even further. Having our Elite Academy Licence provides the opportunity for the club to retain the best talent in the City of Salford, as well as support their education and begin their journey to achieve their dreams of playing for Salford Red Devils in Super League.

“We look forward to welcoming them and their families into the Salford family.”

The Club would also like to give thanks to the partners, donors and businesses who have provided support to the pathway. Their unwavering support has contributed to a successful bid and enabled young people to have a chance at achieving their dreams.

Should further individuals, groups or businesses wish to discuss supporting the Academy moving forward please contact chris.irwin@salfordreddevils.net.

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