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 Wednesday, 20 November, 2002, 07:37 GMT
FA reviews academy plan
Former FA technical director Howard Wilkinson at the Burton site in 2001
Howard Wilkinson at the site of the Burton academy
The Football Association has admitted it is reviewing the future of its proposed 80m National Football Centre in Burton.

But FA marketing director Paul Barber has shrugged off talk of a financial crisis and insisted the new Wembley Stadium remains on track.

The FA's executive board met on Tuesday to scrutinise the governing body's finances in the wake of the departure of former chief executive Adam Crozier.

And Barber insisted to BBC Radio 5 Live that a financial review was sensible in football's current perilous climate.

Barber said: "Given that the National Football Centre is a key project going forward, the board wanted to understand fully the implications of our budget against that priority.

"We remain absolutely certain that the National Football Centre is strategically important to the game in this country.

"However, what we want to do is just to make sure that, over the course of the next few weeks, the board takes the time to look at the money we have got coming, look at the commitments we have already made elsewhere and just make sure the Football Association can afford it.

"That's prudent, that is sensible and that's what you would expect the board to do at this time."

Planning permission has already been been granted at the Burton site and the necessary pre-building work carried out.

The FA has had to find around 100m - far more than originally expected - for the new Wembley, leading to fears that the ambitious Burton project may be put on hold.

But Barber insisted no decision had yet been made to halt or even scrap the project.

He added: "For the moment it is certainly a review of the finances and once that has been completed the board will come to its final decision on whether to proceed at this time or to look at other options.

"The most important thing is the board recognises it is a very, very important project for the future of football and very much wants to complete it."

Wembley, however, will not be threatened by any future cost-cutting.

Barber explained: "We have previously committed to Wembley and that's unaffected by the review that's taken place or any discussions that may take place in the future."

"That's preceding against plan, on time and we are very pleased with the way that is heading."

Former FA cief executive Adam Crozier
Crozier's departure has led to cost-cutting

The FA has also appointed Les Reed as acting technical director until a full-time successor to Howard Wilkinson can be found.

Reed is currently assistant technical director and England Under-21 assistant coach.

The governing body has set up a new finance sub-committee, consisting of FA chairman Geoff Thompson and directors Dave Richards, Peter Ridsdale, Barry Bright, Peter Heard and Roger Burden.

It also reaffirmed its previous decision supporting the formation of a professional game board, but only under the authority of the main board.

It was this issue which forced the resignation of Crozier, who felt the professional board would hand too much power to the Premier League clubs.

 BBC Five Live's Gordon Farquhar
"It seems unlikely that the FA will scrap the centre"
 BBC News' Robin Punt
"Can the FA foot the 80million bill?"
 Leeds youth academy director Andy Ritchie
"It would be a shame if it didn't go ahead"
See also:

19 Nov 02 | Football
20 Nov 01 | Football
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