ACADEMY DEBATE: Top-tier youth status would have affected Paul Jewell’s player budget

SIMON Clegg has revealed that the investment in Category One academy status would have hit Paul Jewell’s playing budget.

The chief executive knows the club have opened themselves up to criticism for fans after only opting for the second tier of the new Elite Player Performance Plan – looking at how football youth policies will operate in the future.

And with Clegg spearheading Town’s decision, he has put himself directly in the firing line of any disgruntled supporters.

But he insisted: “Marcus is an incredibly generous individual in the way he supports this club. But he hasn’t got bottomless pockets.

“What we had to do is make the right decision for this football club and balance up how we want to spend it. Where youth development fits with the rest of the club and particular where it fits against first team expenditure.”

The decision will lead to fears that Ipswich could lose their best young players to rival clubs – with Norwich

City already ploughing ahead with top-tier status.

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But the chief executive believes the cream of young talent from the county will still look at Portman Road and the impressive track record the club has.

He explained: “I am sure those players who come from our natural catchment area will still gravitate to Ipswich Town.

“It will be a massive decision for parents of any aspiring footballer to move sticks and move up north.

“I think we will continue to attract and compete for overseas player and I am absolute convinced that the wonderful set-up we have got up at the training ground – coupled with the way we can demonstrate our track record in developing talent – will entice the right players to this club.”

Due to the nature of the new guidelines, Clegg revealed that the club are actually Category Three status at present but that the next level would be achieved by the end of next month.

Spending more than �1 million on second-tier status – the top level would cost double that amount – more staff and facilities are needed to satisfy the demands set by the Premier League and Football League.

But Clegg hasn’t ruled out going for Category One should promotion to the Premier League be achieved in the next few years.

He said: “Of course we would aspire to Category One but it is just not viable at this moment in time. If we got to the Premier League and felt we could justify an application, we would do so.

“We need to see what happens to those clubs applying for Category One. It will be interesting to see how many clubs outside the Football League apply and how many Premier League clubs go for Category Two.

“There is flexibility if you want to apply for re-categorisation.”