£100m well spent? England set to grace new Burton training facility
This summer, we exited a major tournament via the fearsome penalty shootout for the umpteenth time but Roy Hodgson and the FA’s eyes are on the future, particularly considering crucial 2014 World Cup qualifiers against Moldova and Ukraine are just around the corner.
Fitting that the FA’s National Football Centre in Burton-upon-Trent is set to be unveiled then after John Peacock’s Under-17 outfit gained first use of the Staffordshire-based facility this week.
St George’s Park as it will be officially known has been under construction for some time now having been given the green light way back in 2001 but with the cutting of the tape imminent, has it all been worth it?
Well, the state-of-the-art facility has cost £100m or two Fernando Torres’ if you like your finances in true football speak and the 330 acre site includes 11 pitches with some floodlighted and under soil heated, two indoor sports halls; one for multi-sport use, a rehabilitation gym, a hydrotherapy suite, a strength and conditioning gym, goalkeeping areas as well as an on-site biomechanics and screening area. All very impressive, no?
The critics had pointed to the fact that St George’s Park took so long to construct with the FA not wholly committed to delivering the project within the original timescale, hence leaving the project as an entire afterthought – some pledge to the future of English football!
But if we let bygones be bygones, we should all revel in this latest breakthrough for the England national football team.
Burton could now be envisaged as the true hub of English football with the League Managers’ Association (LMA) and the Professional Footballers Association (PFA) already on site, meaning better communication and understanding between the respective bodies.
England Under-17 manager John Peacock said: “When you have got the LMA on site and the PFA have got an office here, it is a sign that we’re all working together for the common theme of making English football better.
“I personally think English football couldn’t have done without this centre. When you think of what the clubs have done individually in raising their standards, with facilities, coaching and general youth development structure, it has been fantastic.
“As an association we have needed to do something on top of that.”
Indeed £100m is a lot of money in every sense but given the success of Wembley Stadium as a venue since its reconstruction, we should be optimistic that the big outlay at Burton will be equally successful.
English football won’t change overnight with the senior side still criticised for appearing like strangers at times, but the familiar surroundings of St Georges Park can only spell good things in terms of a more permanent environment compared to the temporary poaching of places such as Arsenal’s London Colney facility.
The revered Spanish and German international teams have more of a club feel given their successes and rarely unchanged personnel considering both nations are undergoing a ‘golden generation’ and perhaps England can follow suit by knowing they will be based at this exciting new facility in the heart of Staffordshire.
A fresh new start is underway for England. Let us wish them all the best in their 2014 World Cup qualification campaign.
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