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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 January, 2004, 19:29 GMT
Fears over football centre's future
An aerial view of the planned home of the National Football Centre
No finished buildings can be seen from the air
Questions have been raised over whether the National Football Centre, scheduled to open in east Staffordshire in May, will be finished in time.

The Football Association (FA) committed itself last January to finishing the 80m coaching complex at Rangemoor, near Burton-on-Trent.

But an aerial view of the site reveals pitches that appear to be unfinished and no completed buildings.

The FA's former technical director Howard Wilkinson told BBC Midlands Today that the 750m cost of building a new Wembley Stadium could be the reason for the lack of progress at the Staffordshire complex.

Council confident

He said: "If the finances of the national stadium had been better organised... I think it's reasonable to say that the National Football Centre would have now been up and running."

Dave Wood, a flying instructor who frequently passes over the site, said he has seen very little evidence of recent work there.

Who would buy seven or eight football pitches that are floodlit in the middle of the country?
William Saunders
East Staffs Borough Council
"There was an awful lot of activity, but in the last couple of years it just seems to have decreased to trickle, really."

The FA has admitted there has been no recent work at the complex.

But the chief executive of East Staffordshire Borough Council William Saunders said so much money had already been invested in the centre that the project would surely be completed.

"As much as anything else, what are they going to do with the site if they did (shelve the scheme)?

"Who would buy seven or eight football pitches that are floodlit in the middle of the country?"

The FA said they have made good progress at the Burton site but said that their new chief executive Mark Palios is taking stock of all their projects.

They said this meant no finishing date could yet be given for the complex.




WATCH AND LISTEN
BBC Midlands Today's Robin Punt
"Could the FA mothball the National Centre and rely on the club system alone to produce the England stars of the future?"



SEE ALSO:
FA to proceed with football centre
17 Jan 03  |  England
FA 'holds key' to football centre
27 Nov 02  |  England
Football centre plans on hold
20 Nov 02  |  England


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