SWINDON Town chairman Jeremy Wray fears the new Elite Player Performance Programme will allow Premier League clubs to snap up the best local talent on the cheap.

The initiative, designed to improve the quality of the national side, involves the adoption of academies by clubs up and down the country with a focus on developing every aspect of a young footballer’s game, mindset and standard of living.

Town have opted to become a ‘category three’ academy, meaning the employment of four new full-time members of staff - including a dedicated goalkeeping coach - as well as a part-time welfare officer and a part-time sports scientist.

The scheme will enable Swindon to offer vastly improved opportunities to talented youngsters in the region, chances their predecessors could only dream of.

However, it comes with a catch.

Part of the EPPP, voted in by Football League clubs in October last year, is a rigid matrix which determines the compensation fee a side would be owed should a club further up the pyramid recruit one of their young players.

That means figures in the region of £250,000, the sum Town earned from the sales of Alex Henshall to Manchester City in 2010 and Matty Collins to Fulham in 2001, will become things of the past.

And that is the part of the programme that worries Wray.

“I’d be wrong if I said I wasn’t concerned with the EPPP directive, simply because it does appear that it’s much easier for the Premiership clubs to come and cherry-pick from some of the other clubs and you don’t necessarily get value for the talent that you’ve nurtured and brought forward,” he said.

“We’ve got to see how that plays out going forward but I think we’re correctly positioned for this year and for the foreseeable future at this level.

“If we go up to the Championship we may have to revisit it then and see to what extent part of our sustainable plan may entail moving up a category.”

Several sides, including Yeovil and Hereford, have abandoned their youth programmes following the advent of the EPPP.

However, with a fairly rich reputation of developing local youngsters to preserve, Wray stressed that Town will always continue to invest in the next generation.

“You have to decide where you fit in that pyramid now and I think category three is the appropriate place for us,” he said.

“It does mean more investment for us but it is an important part of Swindon Town and always has been. We have a history in this club of bringing up young talent, of throwing up young players from the local communities and it’s right that we grab hold of that and push forward.”