Graham Taylor believes it may take up to ten years before Watford can truly judge the success of the Harefield Academy and insists the club are “fully committed” to the school.

Harefield is a specialist sports school which is geared towards gifted young athletes and Watford have 50 places reserved for their Academy players, starting at the age of 11.

The Hornets first and second year scholars also attend for a day-and-a-half, even if they are part of Malky Mackay’s first team plans.

Watford’s financial problems since they were relegated from the Premier League are well documented and the club has consistently reduced its wage bill in the last two years.

But despite the Hornets’ need for cash, chief executive Julian Winter stated: “Harefield is really important to the football club and even in the difficult times we have had in the last 18 months, two years, that has never been in question.”

It is hoped the Elton John concert could raise £600,000 for ‘player acquisitions’ this summer but Watford have once again cut the wage bill and Mackay is expected to rely heavily on youngsters next season.

The Hornets have attempted to cut some costs with the ‘Harefield Project’ but Taylor is adamant the club is “fully committed” to the school.

Watford’s chairman said: “There is always one or two problems but you get that in any organisation or relationship.

“People will say it is expensive and it is, but we have committed ourselves and we cannot suddenly after three years judge the success of Harefield after that time.

“You need to look at it after five, six, seven or even perhaps ten years. You are taking in lads who are 11 and 12 so really if you give him ten years he is only 21. You can judge then.

“Yes there have been some costs we have had to look at reducing all over the board but the football side of it is the most expensive part of the club.

“Is it better to spend a bit more money than we would like to on Harefield rather than giving it to agents and players?

“We think at the moment it is better to spend that extra money on Harefield than it is on players.”

Winter claims first-year scholar Gavin Massey is the first real product of Harefield after attending the school, signing a scholarship with the club and subsequently being handed a professional contract.

The Hornets’ chief executive believes Watford’s financial position means the club must be better at producing its own players than they have in the past.

Winter said: “It doesn’t take you long to get out on to the pitch at Vicarage Road the way the club is structured now.

“You can join Watford, go to Harefield and have a wonderful education and coaching programme that supports you as a player, come on a scholarship programme for two years and sign first-team pro and you will be on the verge of the first team.

”Gavin Massey is the first one who spent time at the school, did his scholarship and has signed his pro deal and made his debut at Coventry.

“He is the first one of what we would like to think will be a conveyor belt for the future, bringing young players into the first team. That is why you do young player development. Not because you like doing it, you do it because it brings players on to the pitch.

“We have been good at it in the past but we have to be excellent at it and Harefield gives us that edge.”