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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Dec 16, 2007

FA must back Burton project - Brooking

Just days after appointing England's second foreign manager, Sir Trevor Brooking has called on the Football Association to back the 'Burton project' to ensure a home-grown talent can fill the post in future.

The National Football Centre initiative, a brainchild of former FA technical director Howard Wilkinson, has been on ice for the past 12 months as Soho Square officials concentrated their efforts on getting Wembley up and running, then negotiating massively improved new TV deals.

Brooking is convinced the income from those new contracts should be used to complete the £60million centre at Burton which, when finished will comprise eight training pitches, as well as provide a hub for all FA training and medical facilities.

Most coaches and players believe the idea, modelled on the outstandingly successful French academy at Clarefontaine, would be a major boost to the game in this country, helping to address a decline in standards that has been noted across Europe.

However, there is major opposition in some quarters, notably from Premier League chairman Sir David Richards, who feels the expense represents a waste of money. An alternative view would be to have a number of regional centres across the country, rather than a single site.

The matter will be discussed at an FA board meeting on Thursday, with four options under review - to scrap the scheme altogether, give the green light to an amended pro-Clairefontaine proposal, push the deal through as it stands or redevelop the site, which has already cost the FA £20million, with another business partner.

It had been expected a definitive ruling would be made, although it now transpires that is not necessarily the case.

However, Brooking feels it is imperative that, providing value for money can be established, Burton does eventually get the green light.

'A lot of technical people in the country would like an investment, to see a signal sent by the governing body that we do mean business,' Brooking told Sky Sports.

'It would act as a catalyst - a hub site, for interaction between coaches and players and would raise the level, as it has done in a lot of the other big European countries.

'I accept finances and value for money has to come into it and that is what delayed it for a couple of years.

'But the organisation has done some great commercial deals and there is an opportunity to invest some money.

'I would like, hopefully, to persuade those board members that will make the decision that it is a good route to follow and that FA money coming through the England team should be invested in the long-term future of players and coaches within the country.'