Former Chelsea youth chief Michael Emenalo says one of their former managers urged Roman Abramovich to scrap the club's academy.
Emenalo, who spent a decade in various roles at Stamford Bridge before leaving in 2017, took responsibility for developing the club's young players under bosses including Jose Mourinho, Andre Villas-Boas and Antonio Conte.
He told the Telegraph: "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.
"But that wasn't my idea and I had to fight against it. This is where I am very, very proud of the owner Roman Abramovich because of the trust he had in me and the willingness to listen to me and give the academy time. He would not abandon it. He believed in it and in me, and I can't thank him enough for that."