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Tuesday, 19 November, 2002, 13:20 GMT
Academy fears played down
Former FA technical director Howard Wilkinson at the Burton site in 2001
Howard Wilkinson at the site of the Burton academy

Planners in charge of the development of the National Football Centre in Burton are confident the project will not be scrapped.

A planned programme of cost-cutting at the Football Association has threatened the development of the 70m academy.

But Peter Short, the principal planning officer at East Staffordshire Borough Council, believes Burton's dream will be realised.


Such a large investment has been made already that I would be surprised if they pulled out
Peter Short,
planning officer
Short accepted that any belt-tightening at the FA may cause the development to be put on hold, but does not fear plans will be scrapped altogether.

He told BBC Sport Online: "We don't know what the plan is as yet, but we will watch the situation with interest.

"We are responsible for planning details but have had no information from the FA about their future plans in light of Howard Wilkinson's departure.

"Planning permission has been granted and we have done the necessary pre building work.

"If it's decided to halt the project or put it on hold, that is really up to the FA, but I would like to think they would inform us of their decision as a matter of courtesy."

Former FA cief executive Adam Crozier
Crozier's departure has led to cost-cutting
Following the recent departure of chief executive Adam Crozier, Tuesday's meeting of the FA's executive board was expected to table money saving proposals to ease the FA's financial burden.

With the Wembley redevelopment project now a runaway train seemingly impossible to stop, Burton is the most obvious big-money project to target.

A senior official close to the Wembley project claims it would cost the FA almost as much to scrap the development as to build it, as it could be sued for several breaches of contract.

The FA has had to put about 100m of its own money - far more than originally expected - into Wembley and the ambitious 70m Burton project is now an added financial millstone around the Association's neck.

Yet freezing the development of English Football's answer to France's impressive Clairefontaine academy could prove a false economy, taking into account rising building costs.

"If it's decided to halt the project or put it on hold, that is really up to the FA," said Short, who is responsible for monitoring the project.

Large investment

"I'm not an accountant, I'm a planning officer, but costs will increase over time if the economy continues along its current lines.

"Abandoning the project altogether is a different kettle of fish but such a large investment has been made already that I would be surprised if they pulled out."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Five Live's Gordon Farquhar
"It seems unlikely that the FA will scrap the centre"
Leeds youth academy director Andy Ritchie
"It would be a shame if it didn't go ahead"

Construction of the 70m National Football Centre (NFC) may be halted as part of a drastic FA cost cutting exercise. FA dilemma
Costs may hold up new national football centre
See also:

20 Nov 01 | Football
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