FOOTBALL chiefs’ decision to approve Burton’s new National Football Centre is ‘an historic moment’, the town’s MP has said.
Andrew Griffiths said there would be ‘widespread jubilation’ after the Football Association’s board gave its final approval to St George’s Park and agreed to underwrite the long-delayed £105 million scheme.
Mr Griffiths launched a campaign backing the scheme after some local residents raised a legal challenge — dismissed by a High Court judge last month — to plans to build homes on part of the site.
He told the Mail: “This is an historic moment for our town and something which will put Burton on the national and international map.
“I would like to thank the thousands of people who backed the Bring It To Burton campaign and I am thrilled that this iconic development is going to be built in our back yard.
“Burton will always be the home of brewing but now it will also be the home of English football. The town will be mentioned regularly on television and in national newspapers and that can only be a good thing for businesses and the local tourist trade.
“Throughout the campaign the people of Burton got behind the St George’s Park proposal and I hope now the FA will repay them for all the trust we put in them.
“The important thing now is for us to work to ensure we can maximise the benefits for prosperity and employment in the town.”
Frank McArdle, chief executive of South Derbyshire District Council and a member of the National Football Centre board, said the scheme would benefit not just East Staffordshire but also its neighbouring authority and the wider area.
He said: “We are putting around £80 million of investment into East Staffordshire which is of major benefit both to the borough and to South Derbyshire, because employment will come from both areas.
“We will be sitting down shortly with the successful contractor and working with them to ensure that, wherever possible, local sub-contractors are used and local people are involved in the development.”
Andy O’Brien, chief executive of East Staffordshire Borough Council, revealed the council was in talks with the FA to run the community-use facilities which form part of the scheme.
He said: “We are very pleased the FA has given the final go-ahead to commence building work and we look forward to the impact this facility will have on the East Staffordshire economy, bringing jobs and opportunities for local people.
“We are also pleased that there will be community football pitches for use by local people which will go a long way to inspiring youngsters in their sports development.”