Paul Fairclough admits Barnet’s Academy has been “wounded” following the Bees’ relegation from the Football League but insists the club remain committed to developing their young players.

The Bees made a concerted effort to focus on youth development last summer.

The club applied and were successful in gaining category two status for their Academy under the shake-up of youth football across the UK – the Elite Player Performance Plan.

It meant Barnet had to invest in their Academy as well as receiving additional funding from the Football League.

However, the Bees director of football says the club may have to restructure the Academy following relegation from League Two.

“The fact we are not a Football League club means we do lose some of our funding,” Fairclough explained.

“So we may have to reshape the structure of the Academy but we want to still retain it.

“A lot of work has gone into it and we have a lot of bright young players coming through and I do not want to lose them.

“We have 13 and 14-year-old players who have shown fantastic promise and we could end up losing our compensation rights for them if we are not careful.”

While the season ended with the disappointment of relegation, the progress made in the Academy was evident as Elliot Johnson, Luke Gambin, Iffy Allen, George Sykes and Jamal Lowe making first-team appearances for Barnet.

All five youngsters have been retained ahead of the 2013/2014 campaign and Fairclough is confident they will make an impact in the Conference.

He said: “We have some very good young players coming through. Elliot has been fantastic since coming into the team while in the final game of the season Luke was sensational.

“He needs a run in the team now. I would like to see Luke playing in a team that is getting results every week.

“Jamal Lowe played a few games under Mark Robson. He had a terrific game at Southend where he hit the post and was unlucky not to grab the winner for us. He has developed well.

“I think next season could be a big one for Iffy Allen and we also have George Sykes coming through.”

The Bees’ decision to develop their Academy and integrate young players into the first team was a large part of the reason the club decided to appoint Mark Robson last summer rather than hiring Martin Allen.

It was a choice which arguably backfired as Allen went on to win League Two with Gillingham, although he had a much larger budget than he would have with Barnet.

“The easiest thing to have done last season was to have appointed Martin as manager,” Fairclough said.

“But Martin for me, and to other people we consulted with, wasn’t the right fit for the club at that time.

“It meant embracing the Academy and playing the style of football we wanted to play. You don’t want to play a certain way in the Academy and then a different way in the first team because that will confuse the younger players.

“If we didn’t have the Academy and were not going down this new process, we would’ve appointed Martin Allen instantly. It would’ve been a no-brainer.

“You look back and you think maybe we should have put the Academy second and the first team first. But we couldn’t because we were embracing the whole football club and not just looking at the first team.”

Under Robson Barnet started their League Two campaign poorly and had just three points from their opening 12 matches.

Edgar Davids was then appointed as joint head coach alongside Robson. The Bees’ form improved but Robson left his role in December.

Fairclough said: “What happened is that Mark underestimated League Two and overestimated the players that he had brought in.

“We started the first game of the season against Port Vale with a midfield four that had less than 25 league appearances between them.

“Port Vale’s had something like 300 appearances between them. They went up and we went down.”