THE proposed restructure of the academy at Wanderers has been significantly slowed by the coronavirus pandemic, admits Tobias Phoenix.

Although plans to step down from a category two to a category three academy were confirmed at the start of the year, lockdown has made it difficult to progress the restructure at the pace the club had initially envisaged.

A consultation process barely had time to begin in March, after which long-serving staff such as Jimmy Phillips, David Lee and Nicky Spooner were placed on furlough, along with the vast majority of non-playing staff.

Although a few staff have returned to the stadium, the training ground at Lostock remains empty, barring those maintaining the grounds and security.

Asked for an update on the academy restructure, head of football operations, Phoenix, explained: “There isn’t much of one, being honest, and some of that has been pandemic related,” he said. “We started with the academy restructure but it was very much day one, week one, when we got hit with the pandemic.

“There have been bits and bobs going on behind the scenes but some things have been made more difficult with social distancing and not really knowing when the end of the tunnel would arrive with the pandemic.

“It’s still ongoing but it has been a bit slower than we would have liked.

“The priority has also been to get the head coach in and the next one will be to recruit a group good enough to get us to where we need to go in League Two.

“We are moving the academy stuff along, though, because it is important to us – but what happens on a Saturday tends to dictate everything else at a football club.”