STOKE CITY have launched the latest phase of a multi-million pound commitment to establishing one of the best Academies in English football . . . with the expansion of their state-of-the-art facilities at the Clayton Wood Training Ground.
Work has got underway to carry out further developments to the Training Ground which were crucial to the Club's success in acquiring Category One status within the Elite Player Performance Plan being implemented in the English game.
The Club are investing a further £6 million in the upgrade of Clayton Wood, the first part of which is the creation of additional changing rooms, office accommodation, a classroom, parents lounge, spectator facilities and a two-lane sprint track.
A 38-week construction project, which is scheduled for completion in time for the build-up to the 2013-14 season, it will be undertaken by Seddon after the contract was awarded to a local company with a long-standing association with the Club.
"This development of new facilities at Clayton Wood was an important aspect of our submission to the Premier League in seeking to obtain Category One status," explained Richard Smith, the Managing Director of Stoke City Property Ltd.
"It further demonstrates the commitment of the Club and its owners to creating an Academy system which is right up there with the very best in the country and gives us the best possible chance of producing our own players for the first team."
He added: "This 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 growth in our Academy operation which will hopefully ensure in the long run that we can nurture the best young talent from within the Stoke-on-Trent area, while also attracting the best young players from further afield who become available to us.
"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.
"We are delighted to be working with Seddon as the contractor for this initial phase of the project. They are a well-established local company and a long-standing Club partner who have one of the stands at the Britannia Stadium in their name."
Stuart Seddon, Chairman of Seddon Property Services, commented: "We are really pleased to be working on the Training Ground and continuing the long-term relationship between Stoke City Football Club and Seddon.
"The Club's investment in the Academy in nurturing the footballing future of England mirrors Seddon's support of construction apprentices for 75 years and the 75 young people who have been employed this year alone."
The initial work on developing the £7 million Training Complex at Clayton Wood was completed in time for the beginning of the 2010-11 season, providing the best facilities for both the Club's first team squad and the Academy.
That formed the basis of a bid to attain Category One status under the Elite Player Performance Plan when an extensive assessment process was carried out by the Premier League, but further improvements to the facilities were an essential requirement of the Club being granted that particular grading in July this year.