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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Dec 18, 2007

Brooking believes Burton project is vital to future

Sir Trevor Brooking believes building a National Football Centre in Burton is as important as the appointment of Fabio Capello as England manager.

Brooking, the Football Association's director of football development, told BBC Sport ahead of a board meeting tomorrow to discuss the future of the Staffordshire project: 'Burton is certainly up there with anything else we're going to do.

'If we don't get it right the England coach's job will get that much harder.'

Former FA technical director Howard Wilkinson has warned the appointment of Capello is only a 'quick fix'.

Wilkinson, 64, chairman of the League Managers' Association, spoke recently about the need to press ahead with plans for a headquarters at Burton and long-term investment in the development of players and coaches for the future.

Wilkinson is in no doubt about Capello's calibre as a coach but is insistent that the Italian's appointment as Steve McClaren's successor should not mask long-term issues.

'The number of players we are producing is reducing year on year,' Wilkinson told the Yorkshire Post.

'If we don't deal with the long term, as well as the short term, the problems will continue.

'My fear is that we will think the 'quick fix' will be the long-term fix. Surely, by now, we realise it won't.'

FA board member David Sheepshanks has voiced his concerns over the location and potential cost of a National Football Centre being built at Burton.

Sheepshanks stressed that his view was a personal opinion, rather than the FA's, although his comments highlight the possible problems in getting the green light for the project, which FA director of football development Sir Trevor Brooking feels is as important as Fabio Capello's appointment as England boss.

'I'm personally in favour of a national football centre but not necessarily at Burton,' Sheepshanks said on Sky Sports News.

'I voted against when it came up first time because the economics did not stack up and whether they ever will is a question.'

Burton-upon-Trent is in Staffordshire, and Sheepshanks feels a National Football Centre would be better located nearer the capital.

'I think it has to be nearer to Wembley, and I think it has to be nearer to London,' Sheepshanks added.

'That is my own personal view, I'm not speaking FA policy.

'It has to be user-friendly for the England team, and it also has to stack up (financially). Providing that, who knows, but that is my personal view.'

There are currently pitches at Burton that have been used by England youth teams this season. Under-21 boss Stuart Pearce has overseen training sessions at the site and he has been among those to call for a national centre.

Chief executive Brian Barwick spoke proudly of the money that will be generated by the FA in the coming years - and it has been argued that money spent on development is just as important as getting the right man to manage the England team.

Premier League managers have highlighted the flaws in the current academy system, and Tottenham sporting director Damien Comolli believes a change is needed.

'Currently, children in academy football in this country can only train three times a week,' said the Frenchman.

'The only way players are going to come through the system who are technically as good as those in other countries is if they train more often.

'You can have the best facilities, the best academies, the best coaches, but if you only train your youth players three times a week, you've got no chance.

'In countries such as France, Spain, Portugal and Holland, young footballers spend hours training with the ball at their feet, developing their technical skill - and it makes a massive difference.

'When children don't get enough training, it affects the clubs and ultimately it affects the national team.'