The EPPP is a long-term strategy designed to advance youth development to the next level, with the intention of creating a legacy for producing the very best homegrown players.
Following an independent audit, which focused on a range of factors, including productivity rates of players for the first team, training facilities and coaching, education and welfare provision, Rovers received the elite rank after scoring highly across the board.
The positive outcome is a result of significant investment from the club’s owners in improving facilities, which includes a new state-of-the-art 3G pitch and an extension to the Academy classrooms and kitchen.
The decision enables Rovers to create extra contact time with its young players, to compete against the best Academies in the country and to recruit players from further afield than was previously permitted.
Rovers will also receive the highest level of central funding from the Premier League.
Academy Manager Phil Cannon, who spearheaded Rovers’ application process, said: “This is a landmark day in the Academy’s history.
“An incredible amount of time and work has been invested by staff both at the Academy and Ewood over a two-year period and it’s extremely satisfying that our efforts have been rewarded.
“A huge amount of credit must go to the owners, because without their significant support and investment in this project, none of this would have been possible.
“Securing Category 1 status enables our players to play against the top teams in the top leagues at all ages and safeguards our long-term goal of producing and attracting the best players in the area and developing them into future first team stars.”
Rovers’ Managing Director Derek Shaw added: “We are absolutely delighted to today receive official notification that we have secured Category 1 status.
“It was an extremely vigorous process and we are all very proud to have achieved our objective, which confirms our Academy as being up there with the best in the country.”