FA signs L&G for £100m national football centre

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The Independent Online

The Football Association has found financial backing for the development of the long-awaited National Football Centre in Burton-on-Trent.

Legal & General's property-investment arm, Legal & General Property, has stumped up the cash to forward-fund the hotel and conference element of the development in Staffordshire which enables the £100m scheme to go ahead.

The St George's Park centre, which has been on the drawing board for 10 years, will be home to 24 teams associated with England which will use the 12 pitches. It will also include a 230-bedroom Hilton hotel, the League Managers Association's head office, a sports science and performance research centre, conference facilities and a spa. The FA hopes the new facilities will improve the number and quality of English football coaches and in the longer term produce better players for the country.

Legal & General has invested the majority of the cash to fund the remainder of the scheme, which will have an end value of £80m. The outdoor pitches have already been built, funded by the FA. Work will start on the hotel, underground pitches and associated buildings next year and it will be completed by 2012. Legal & General will own the long leasehold of the hotel, which is leased to the FA, which in turn agreed a management agreement with Hilton to run the hotel, conference centre and spa.

The FA's original business plan for the project was to find a major sponsorship deal for the venue beyond Hilton, Legal & General, and Umbro, the FA's kit supplier, which will also be associated with the centre. But the FA announced last month it would fund any sponsorship shortfall for the development. It is thought the FA has invested more than £25m in the project. Planning permission was granted earlier this year for the scheme on the 330-acre site.

Legal & General Property invests in many property sectors, including supermarkets, distribution units, shopping centres and offices.