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Jeremy Peace could scrap West Brom academy

Sport | Published:

West Brom chairman Jeremy Peace today warned he could scrap the club's current academy system in an angry response to the latest potential raid on its top prospects.

West Brom and Peace were already furious that 14-year-old England age group star Yan Dhanda was being hunted by Arsenal and Liverpool.

But reports from London claiming Chelsea have now got their claws into 16-year-old Isaiah Brown have further blackened the owner's mood.

The midfielder who made it to the Baggies' Premier League squad last season and is rated one of their strongest prospects for years.

All four divisions adopted the unpopular Elite Player Performance Plan two years ago which would guarantee West Brom compensation of £209,000, plus add-ons based on the player's eventual appearances.

But the numbers aren't stacking up for Peace and he will spend the next year seriously reviewing West Brom's Category One youth operation.

He said: "I thought originally with Category One clubs that they were not able to poach players from other Category One clubs – but they can.

"If that happens then it's £209,000 per player but we are running an overhead of £2.5million on the academy.

"We're running at a loss if we only get £209,000 for one of our players. If four or five of these players go then what's the point?

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"Why are we bothering? It's a big year for the EPPP. If it isn't proving successful then we need to look at it.

"Being successful means retaining our players, bringing them through into the first-team. If they are disappearing at 15 or 16, then what's the point?"

The EPPP system was voted in with the enthusiastic backing of the Premier League elite.

But critics lower down the food chain are accusing them of holding a gun to their head by threatening to withdraw £5million of funding if it wasn't approved.

Already, a cluster of smaller clubs – Hereford, Wycombe and Yeovil – have scrapped their academies. But West Brom are by some distance the biggest to speak out against the system.

Peace added: "Perhaps £2.5million would be better spent bringing in a player rather than on the academy."

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