English football’s new home in the West Midlands could provide a significant boost to the regional economy according to business leaders.
St George’s Park, The Football Association’s new £100 million training and education facility in Burton-on-Trent, is due to open on a 330-acre site this summer.
The park will be the training home of the 24 England teams and a hi-tech national coach education, development and sports medicine centre for football, sport and business.
The development will create up to 200 jobs at the site, which will include two hotels, a conference centre and England’s first full-size indoor artificial football pitch.
Rob Ray, the FA’s director of digital and IT, said: “The demands of a business user are increasing every day.
“We need to attract businesses here – Real Madrid or Barcelona could base themselves here.
“It would have been too easy to have St George’s Park in the South East.
“We need a foundation for the future. “We need to help make the difference with technology, we are striving to be in the top ten in the world.
“There are more licenced coaches in Spain and Germany and we are a long way behind in terms of some of the other European countries but we have ambitious plans to catch up.”
The Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership believes the National Football Centre will raise the profile of the area and, like other sporting developments, act as a catalyst for new investment.
The LEP cited the new Wembley Stadium as providing a boost to the local London economy.
BT is the communications partner at St George’s Park, which has been working to ensure the park is equipped with the latest technology, including a high-speed voice and data network and wi-fi.
All the pitches are fitted with cameras to track player movements and The FA’s database for coaches can be accessed just about anywhere on the site – from hotel rooms to the three ‘dirty’ seminar huts by the training pitches.
Neil Pemberton, managing director of BTInet, said: “As technology plays a bigger part in everyones lives why would football be any different.”
St George’s Park will also have a 25,000 sq ft sports medicine centre, which The FA hope will become the first FIFA Centre of Medical Excellence in England.