Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Unearthed: Chelsea's [Pounds Sterling]20million 'Bunker'

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Unearthed: Chelsea's [Pounds Sterling]20million 'Bunker'

Article excerpt

Byline: RAOUL SIMONS

ROMAN ABRAMOVICH, Jose Mourinho and Peter Kenyon will soon be able to plot Chelsea's quest for world domination from their own underground bunker.

The hidden floor is one of the central features of the club's proposed new [pounds sterling]20million training ground at Cobham in Surrey, plans for which are revealed for the first time today.

The state-of-the-art facility, which should open in July 2006, also includes 15 football pitches, the latest player rehabilitation equipment and a moat around the main building to allow light into the bunker.

For environmental reasons the height of the main building, which is topped off by a grass roof, needed to be kept low. So architects AFL came up with the idea of building it into the ground.

The site, which Chelsea have bought from Imperial College, will be home to the club's academy as well as the first-team squad.

It is a major move for Chelsea, who are bidding to catch up with Manchester United and Arsenal both in terms of youth development and training facilities.

United and Arsenal have both opened multimillion-pound new training bases in the last five years, while Chelsea have toiled at their outdated Harlington base.

Some of Chelsea's players have made no secret of their unhappiness with the Heathrow site and the club have been desperate to find an alternative.

Former Blues star Frank Leboeuf once said: "It had become a wearing routine to go to Harlington, with aircraft taking off on your left, the motorway on the right, the coffee factory close by, the wind and the rain every day. I got the feeling I was stagnating." Even Abramovich's millions can't influence the weather, but Chelsea's pampered superstars are likely to be far happier in leafy Surrey, close to many of their stockbroker-belt homes.

Manager Jose Mourinho said: "A modern and top training ground is important for first-team players. …

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