Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Training Pitch Will Boost Community; Academy in Danger If Plan Isn't Approved

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Training Pitch Will Boost Community; Academy in Danger If Plan Isn't Approved

Article excerpt

Byline: Tony Henderson

BACKING has been given by councillors for plans by Sunderland Football Club to build an indoor training centre on green belt land.

The bid will now be referred to Government Office North East for consideration.

The club wants to build the centre at its existing Academy of Light in the green belt at Cleadon between South Shields and Sunderland, which opened in 2003.

South Tyneside councillors made their decision after hearing the club was fearful it could lose its Academy status if it could not create a dedicated indoor centre, and that the development would increase the chances of Sunderland being a World Cup host city in 2018.

The Cleadon site totals 89 hectares, of which 24 are devoted to football facilities such as outdoor pitches and buildings.

It provides a base for the Sunderland Youth Academy, accommodating 146 players over a wide age range, and the club's 47-strong professional squad. The Premier League sets out the minimum facilities to be provided by an Academy and this includes an indoor playing area.

Currently the club uses the Crowtree Leisure Centre, a former ice rink in Sunderland by agreement with the city council.

But this is a temporary arrangement, with the Crowtree site earmarked for longer-term redevelopment.

Councillors were told that as Crowtree is unavailable in the longer term, the club considers that the threat of losing its Academy status is a very real one.

This would be damaging to the club and its ability to attract a continuing flow of young talent.

The clubs says that what makes it even more significant is if FIFA pursues a policy of restricting the number of foreign players, this would make the development of domestic talent even more vital.

Sunderland is also bidding to be a World Cup host city for 2018 and the Cleadon site would act as a training base for a World Cup squad. …

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