Reading have reportedly lured Head of Academy at Cheltenham Town, Antoine Thompson, to Bearwood after seven years in Gloucestershire.

After almost a decade in the town, it marks the continuation of a summer of upheaval in Cheltenham after first team manager Michael Duff departed to Barnsley after four years in charge.

Broken by GloucestershireLive’s Jon Palmer, the Reading Chronicle spoke to the Robins’ reporter for the outlet to get the lowdown on all thigs Thompson.

“I’ve not got a bad word to say about Antoine,” he started. “He’s done a good job. The Academy’s reputation is growing- there are signs that an early loan policy is working. A lot of the players aren’t going to get offered first team contracts, but the Academy are really good at looking after lads and getting them into education and a good level of non-league football, which Antoine deserves lots of credit for. They don’t just discard people if they don’t make it, there’s a very good support system.

“He’s got a Masters in Sports Development and an undergrad in Sports coaching and Conditioning so while he can coach, his role at Cheltenham is more overseeing the whole Academy setup, making sure it’s all organised and everyone is on the same page.”

One key factor that influences youth development is the fact that they do not have an Under-23s side like many clubs higher up the pyramid.


Reading Chronicle:

Above: Michael Duff started a summer of upheaval in Cheltenham


Only returning to the Football League after a one-year hiatus in 2016, a League Two title win in 2020 has catapulted the Whaddon Road outfit back to the third tier for the first time since 2009.

This means that at 18, a decision has to be made on a players’ future- a few years earlier than other clubs might give youth products to prove themselves.

“It is made very difficult because there are no under 23s at Cheltenham,” Mr Palmer stated. “Lads finish their scholarship at 18 and have to persuade the manager that they’re good enough to get into the first team in the near future. They don’t get the extra few years to bridge the gap between the youth team and the first team, where most teams have Under 23s.



“What has happened at Cheltenham is that the outstanding talents that they brought through, like Will Armitage to Southampton, Luke Thomas to Derby County- when they have a real player shining, they tend to get snapped up.”

Despite a differing landscape at Cheltenham’s Category Three Academy, Mr Palmer feels that Thompson has proved himself at the third-tier side.

He concluded: “I think Antoine has done a good job- there are signs it is going in the right direction. He’s a very positive character, a nice guy, friendly and always smiling. He’s always been very professional and dedicated to the job.”