WANDERERS have decided against downgrading their academy next season.

Jimmy Phillips and fellow staff at Lostock will remain in full-time employment next year after the club opted to stay as a category-two operation.

Savings of around £500,000 were being considered by dropping to a part-time category-three academy but chairman Ken Anderson told The Bolton News that having weighed up the pros and cons, Wanderers’ ownership felt it could not be substantiated.

“It was a difficult decision, based purely on the funding requirements, but we think that if the club is going to go forward in the future, this is the right thing to do. We have got to be category two,” he told The Bolton News.

“If we have dropped down then realistically it would have meant laying off staff because it wold have been a part-time operation.

“These aren’t people on footballer’s salaries, some are living hand to mouth, so there was that aspect to think about too.”

Academy graduates such as Rob Holding, Zach Clough, Josh Vela and Tyler Garratt feature heavily in the group of players who return for their first day of pre-season training under new manager Phil Parkinson on Monday.

And Anderson admits the success of the youth policy in recent years did play a major part in maintaining the status quo – which could cost up to £1.2million over the next 12 months, depending on the grants available.

“Ultimately, the younger players are the lifeblood of the football club,” he said. “I won’t pretend we didn’t seriously consider moving down to category three, because we did, it was always a case of whether we could afford the alternative and that was to carry on as we were.”

Academy coaching staff with deep Wanderers roots such as David Lee and Nicky Spooner look set to be kept on in their current roles.

And Anderson was especially pleased to retain the services of academy boss Phillips, whose position appeared most at threat with the proposed changes.

The 50-year-old stepped into the breach at the end of last season as interim manager after Neil Lennon’s departure and added some stability to a team which was cast adrift in the relegation zone.

“We really wanted to keep Jimmy on and when myself and Dean met with him the other day we reached an agreement and he will be with us next year,” Anderson added.