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By ESPN Staff

Burton is 'preferred option' for National Centre

Football Association chiefs today gave the go-ahead in principle for a national football centre, but no final decision has been taken on the size or location of the venue.

The FA board announced their 'preferred option' is for the centre to be built at Burton, Staffordshire.

But they have not ruled out basing it elsewhere - and some FA directors want it to be closer to London.

The Burton option would be linked to a hotel and conference facility, and FA officials will now undertake 'a detailed exploration of the business and funding plans' before a final decision is taken.

According to one board member, much work needs to be done before that decision is made.

The development will please those who have been advocating the need for a centre.

FA chief executive Brian Barwick said in a statement the board had taken a major step forward but did not specifically refer to Burton.

Barwick said: 'I'm delighted that the board has given the green light for a national football centre.

'This is a major step forward for the project. There was general agreement within the board that a national football centre would be a major asset in the development of players, coaches and referees in this country.'

The FA plan to use the centre as a training base for all England's national and junior teams - and it would also house medical, exercise, science, coaching, video analysis and education departments.

Barwick added on Sky Sports News: 'It is a real genuine green light and we look forward now to getting under way.

'It's an absolute in principle that it will go ahead, and Burton starts out as our preferred option.

'It is an acceptance that this is about time we got under way with the National Football Centre; coaching coaches, coaching players, player development, coaching education - all the things that a football association should be doing, we are going to be doing.'

The FA board held their meeting at the De Vere Wokefield Park Hotel near Reading - which houses the BMW Academy, the company's specialist staff training centre. Board members visited the facility to see how the joint operation worked.

FA director of football development Sir Trevor Brooking, England Under-21s coach Stuart Pearce and national coach Steve Wigley all made presentations on the football development context for the project.

Brooking added: 'Everyone involved in the FA's coaching and player-development structures believes that a national football centre is vital to the long-term health of English football.

'We were hugely encouraged by the extremely positive reception from both the professional and grass-roots game.'