Chelsea have been lauded this season for their decision to blood young players who have come through their ranks, with Mason Mount, Fikayo Tomori, and Tammy Abraham all impressing enough to be included in the full England squad to face the Czech Republic and Bulgaria in the forthcoming Euro qualifiers. Meanwhile Callum Hudson-Odoi and Reece James are featuring for the under-21s.
Yet former Technical Director Michael Emenalo has revealed that an unnamed ex-manager wanted to shut down the academy system at the club because it was too expensive to run, and that its main use was as a money-making opportunity. He also credits club owner Roman Abramovich with backing the academy, and refusing to abandon it.
Emenalo said: I defended the academy when there was pressure and doubt and pessimism.
“There was a time when there was a clamour to do more and a manager came in to make a presentation to say the academy was not necessary. The argument was it takes too long, we don’t have time, we should use it to make some money here and there, and that the owner should stop pumping money into it because it seemed like a waste”.
Ironically, it was the FIFA transfer ban that partially forced Chelsea to turn to their academy products this summer, potentially saving them millions.
Andy is an exiled English football fan living in Cyprus. He loves all sports but football is his abiding passion, and he still has dreams every now and then about scoring the winning goal in a Wembley Cup Final, even though his playing days are long gone. He follows most major leagues, across Europe at least, and has a favoured team in each. When he’s not watching, listening, reading or downloading podcasts about football, he spend his time worrying about his beloved Arsenal.