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By ESPN Staff

FA vote for youth football overhaul

The Football Association's shareholders have overwhelmingly voted in favour of introducing major changes to the way that youth football is organised across England.

A total of 87% of the 778 votes cast backed the proposals. which will see English youngsters playing smaller-sided games, with smaller pitches and goals and more emphasis on skills and technique, rather than victory.

The FA's director of football development, Sir Trevor Brooking, called the decision "as important as anything that will happen this summer" for the future of the English game.

The changes will be introduced step-by-step ready for the 2014-15 season and see five-a-side fixtures for seven and eight-year-olds, with 11 and 12-year-olds playing nine-a-side games.

Monday also saw 1966 World Cup winner Sir Bobby Charlton visit the new England training centre at St George's Park. The complex, on the outskirts of Burton, is due to open later this year and will be the base for all England's national sides.

"It is a long time since we won the World Cup. One day soon we will, and it will be because we bit the bullet and decided this was where we were going," Sir Bobby told reporters.

"I have never been so pleased and never been so hopeful - and I mean seriously hopeful - that one day we might again win the World Cup. And if we do, this is where it will be born."

The facility will feature a state-of-the-art medical centre, 11 training pitches and a Hilton hotel, where the presidential suite has been named in Charlton's honour.

"The fact that a room has been named after me has made my day,'' he said. "The FA need to be congratulated really because of the marvellous effort that they have put in. It is the best facility I have ever seen.

"Everything is the best; there is the best equipment, the best facilities, the best medical facilities, the best food and hotels. Every one of the pitches is of the highest quality of anywhere in the world. The size and the quality [of the indoor pitch] is there for all to see. It is something to be really proud of. If you want to be good you have to have the best facilities and here we have that. It is just sensational.''

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