Concerns have been raised over the future of Thorp Arch, but the Leeds United executive has reassured fans.
Leeds United’s executive director Adam Pearson has, in the Yorkshire Evening Post, stressed the importance of the club’s academy and refuted any notion of a potential downsizing of the successful breeding ground.
Owner Massimo Cellino has long-complained about the £600,000 a year rental costs of the training facility and in May suggested the club could scrap the lower age groups and focus only on the 16-year old and above squads.
In quotes published by the YEP, however, Pearson stressed that no restructuring of any order was being considered: “It makes me laugh when I hear that… Our academy budget is as good as any other club in the Championship. It’s not at all under-funded.”
He went on to detail the on-going recruitment of staff at the academy, including ex-Leeds striker Andy Gray and Daral Pugh, as evidence of its continued development.
Pearson added: “People don’t necessarily see this from the outside but the idea that the academy’s being down-graded or under-funded is ridiculous. It’s simply not the case.”
The Leeds director also touched upon Cellino’s worries over the financial demands of the academy, arguing that building a new one, of the required standard, would be a much greater financial burden.
“As for Thorp Arch, I can’t see us leaving. In my view you can’t build a decent new academy for less than £15m. I don’t think that’s where we need to be spending money right now,” said Pearson.
The Whites have produced an abundance of top quality youngsters who have made the step up to the first team – including Lewis Cook, Sam Byram and Alex Mowatt – in recent times, and Pearson says the club’s efforts are being validated by outside interest in their young stars, adding: “We’ve got a wealth of talent at our academy – a real wealth of talent – and that’s proven by the scouts who try to crawl all over Thorp Arch.”
Developing from within has proved critical in Leeds' recent upturn in fortunes and their squad could include as many as five academy graduates against Burnley on Saturday.
Pearson's comments will be further good news ahead of a campaign full of optimism at Elland Road and the stage is set for the Whites' young stars to step to the fore.