As Justin Hoyte becomes Arsenal's latest departee, should club now scrap its youth academy?

The sale of Justin Hoyte at the weekend got me to thinking about the Arsenal academy.

The development scheme has been running for about 12 years now and the only player to have emerged from it and hold down a regular starting place in the Arsenal first team so far is Cashley Cole. And we all know what happened to him - he turned into the one of the most hated former Gunners ever.

Also falling into that territory is David Bentley, who was never good enough to merit a place in the Gunners’ first 11 and, quite frankly, still isn’t. Hence the fact that Tottenham have just broken the bank to make him Light Weight Lane’s highest paid player ever.

Other academy graduates now plying their trade at other clubs include Steve Sidwell, Jermaine Pennant and Fabrice Muamba, so Justin is not alone in failing to make the grade at Arsenal.

So the question I have for you lot is whether you think it’s a worthwhile exercise for Arsenal to run its academy?

Certainly there are a slew of promising young players in the academy - Jack Wilshere, Kieran Gibbs, Henri Lansbury, Jay Simpson and Mark Randall, spring to mind - but just how many of them do you think will become regulars in Arsene Wenger’s first team?

And thinking a little bit deeper about the academy, maybe it is the reason why Arsenal’s wage bill is so high. The personnel needed to run the youth and reserve development schemes must cost the club substantial sums.

Take away the coaches, fitness staff, nutritionists and even the landlords and landladies that house our young Guns and you make a hell of a saving.

Then there are the training facilities that the academy uses and the associated costs of running them.

Now I know many of you are probably thinking, what a ridiculous article, but bear with me.

Arsenal recently said that the club’s wage bill was close to that of Man United and greater than that of Liverpool.

But we all know that when it comes to signing world class talent, Le Gaffer has to stick to a rigid pay structure, so why is the total bill for wages so high? Is it because of the academy and the number of young players it is home to?

There are 28 players named as reserves on the Arsenal website, but there are countless dozens more in the academy structure, ranging in age from eight or nine years old up to their late teens.

But does the academy work?

It certainly has produced a number of players who have gone on to have careers elsewhere - and not just in the Premier League. But I think you could make the argument that financially the academy is a drain on resources.

So why don’t Arsenal simply rely on buying talent that’s been developed elsewhere? Then we might be able to redirect club resources elsewhere - possibly on bringing in established players whose wage demands we could actually afford to meet.

Feel free to vent your anger on such an idea, as I don’t know if I’d actually buy into it myself if pushed, but as a topic for discussion I reckon it has its merits, because I’m at a loss to understand why the club’s wage bill is so high compared to other clubs in the Premier League that quite patently have higher paid players.