PETER COATES has summed up what it will mean to Stoke City when their considerable investment in a new Academy produces home grown talent for the first team.
"There is nothing quite like having a local lad come through the youth system to play for the first team," proclaimed Stoke City's Chairman as he helped to launch a new £6 million programme of development work on the facilities at Clayton Wood Training Ground.
Mr Coates was outlining the importance of the expansion to the Club's Academy operation to comply with the Category One status granted earlier this year following an extensive assessment by the Premier League as part of their new Elite Player Performance Plan.
The 38-week project to create more changing rooms, office accommodation, a classroom and parents lounge within an extension to the training complex, as well as a sprint track and spectator facilities were all crucial to the success in achieving Category One.
"It was important to us to create an infrastructure that will serve the Club for many years to come," commented City's Chairman as the construction work got underway.
"This will be a fantastic facility once the latest work is complete, one which everyone associated with the Club can be proud of as we aim to continue moving forward.
"There is plenty of talent out there and it's our job to make sure we get it. We're competing against the clubs around us and while we may have lost some players in the past, we now want to make sure the best young boys come to Stoke City rather than go elsewhere."
He added: "When the Premier League carried out the assessment of what we had done in our bid to gain Category One status, we almost finished top of our League.
"They were so impressed with all aspects, not just the facilities. We set out to do everything as well we possibly could in key areas such as educational support and sport science. That is great credit to Terry Robinson and his team for the way they approached it.
"You are always looking to have the edge and we would like to think that we have done everything well to give us the best possible chance of bringing through young players for the first team which is what we all hope will happen in the future."
The current work is the first part of a phased programme of improvements to the excellent facilities which are already in place at Clayton Wood.
The expansion of the existing Training Ground complex will accommodate the rapid growth in the Club's Academy operation which is a requirement of Category One status under the Elite Player Performance Plan that is now in place.
The installation of a full-sized indoor pitch and synthetic small-sided pitches, which were always in our long-term plans for further development of the Training Ground, will be undertaken at a later stage of this improvement programme.