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England assistant coach Peter Taylor
"The plans I've seen are very impressive"
 real 56k

Thursday, 15 February, 2001, 16:42 GMT
FA unveil academy plans
FA technical director Howard Wilkinson
The FA is keen to embrace the latest technology
The Football Association has unveiled plans for England's first ever National Football Centre.

The site will be based in Burton, East Staffordshire, covering 350 acres and will cost approximately 30m.

The development is inspired by the French academy at Clairefontaine near Paris, which nurtured the 1998 World Cup and 2000 European Championship winners.

The FA has formed a blueprint for a centre which they are convinced, when it opens in the summer of 2003, will provide the best facilities of their kind.

When it is open this facility will not only be the best in this country - it will be the best in the world
  Howard Wilkinson

"Germany, Italy, Holland France already have these centres but take my word for it - if you've seen any of those you ain't seen nothing yet," said the FA's technical director Howard Wilkinson.

The centre, funded entirely by the FA, will include 14 various pitches and provide facilities and headquarters from national teams from the age of 14 upwards.

It is located near the geographical heart of England and will provide the base for Wilkinson and his assistants to look for and to develop the future generations of England stars.

Second to none

Wilkinson added: "As of now, football in this country has a home. We will create a beautiful site and a place which we hope we can enhance so that people want to come here and to stay here."

The FA has looked closely at Clairefonatine and are keen to encompass all that is good at the French Academy, but Wilkinson believes there is room for improvement.

"It is very difficult to look at the French system and find anything about it with which you do not agree - and I see nothing wrong in copying something which is so good," Wilkinson said.

"I think what they do with players, coaches, strategy and how they manage their teams and operate on a long-term basis, is as sound as you can get and I think the proof is there in the results.

"We hope we have learnt and to a degree we have copied. But now the period for copying is over. What we have is a slightly different problem which will require a slightly different solution.

"When it is open this facility will not only be the best in this country - it will be the best in the world."

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