SHREWSBURY TOWN’S decision to create a youth academy set-up in Chester has left Blues joint-manager Anthony Johnson ‘dumbfounded’.

The Shrews have confirmed plans to open a new ‘Elite Academy’ in the city, which is more than 40 miles from their native Shropshire.

With the aim of ‘providing a pathway for young players to develop towards the academy at various ages’, the new scheme will run alongside Shrewsbury’s locally-sited youth programme.

“I’m dumbfounded by how this can be allowed to happen,” said Johnson.

“Allowing clubs to move into other towns and cities to recruit the young players is pretty despicable in my opinion.

“You can’t just take a club badge and transport it 40 miles away or whatever it is and make a connection with another place. Whether it’s Manchester United, Liverpool or a lower level club, this just shouldn’t happen.

“I know why they’re doing it too. They’re hoping that this new set-up will ultimately produce one or two decent players from this area, who will eventually be able to make that step up.

“Some of these kids will be the lifeblood for Chester Football Club in years to come, so it will have a big impact I’m sure.”

Chester’s successful academy boasts junior teams from U9 through to U18 level, with voluntary coaches and staff helping to sustain the set-up.

The current academy model has already produced Premier League footballer Sam Hughes, and a regular quota of talent who have advanced to the Blues’ first team.

The quintet of James Cottrell, Stuart Crilly, Louis Hayes, George Macready and Harry Molyneux are the most recent graduates to sign senior deals at the Deva.

No consultation is understood to have taken place between the two clubs prior to the announcement, which Johnson was alerted to via social media.

Asked why he felt that such a move was deemed necessary by Shrewsbury, Johnson was equally forthright.

He added: “To me, this whole idea smacks of desperation on their part. Clearly there’s no ruling that prevents them from doing it, which is unfortunate.

“I’d like to see some sort of law put in place to stop it happening.

“The fact they’ll be calling this an ‘elite’ facility as well bothers me. These are young kids who should be playing for fun in under 11 games, but these supposedly elite centres put a lot of pressure on the kids involved at a very early age."