AP

FA approve England's national football centre

Football Association chiefs have given the go-ahead for a national football centre following a board meeting on Thursday.

The board announced that its "preferred option" is for the centre to be built at Burton, Staffordshire, but has not ruled out basing it elsewhere - some FA directors want it to be closer to London.

FA chief executive Brian Barwick said: "I'm delighted that the board has given the green light for a national football centre. This is a major step forward for the project. There was general agreement within the board that a national football centre would be a major asset in the development of players, coaches and referees in this country."

The Burton option would be linked to a hotel and conference facility and FA officials will now undertake "a detailed exploration of the business and funding plans" before a final decision is taken".

The FA plan to use the centre as a training base for all England national and junior teams, and it would also house medical, exercise, science, coaching, video analysis and education departments.

The FA board held their meeting at the De Vere Wokefield Park Hotel near Reading, which houses the BMW Academy, the company's specialist staff training centre. Board members visited the facility to see how the joint operation worked.

The FA's director of football development Sir Trevor Brooking, England Under-21 coach Stuart Pearce and national coach Steve Wigley all made presentations on the football development context for the project.

Brooking added: "Everyone involved in the FA's coaching and player development structures believes that a national football centre is vital to the long-term health of English football.

"We were hugely encouraged by the extremely positive reception from both the professional and grassroots game."