Newcastle United explore potential sites for state-of-the-art new training ground
Newcastle United’s new owners are looking at potential sites for a new training ground.
The club wants to build a new facility to replace its outdated training centre in Benton, which was opened almost 20 years ago after plans to base the first-team squad at the now-derelict Woolsington Hall were abandoned by the club’s then-owners.
Newcastle’s owners are already examining potential new sites, and the Gazette understands that one piece of land on the north west edge of the city has been looked at ahead of a decision on a new facility.
The club, which secured a 125-year lease on Darsley Park in 2001, could opt to redevelop its present site, though a move is more likely.
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United revealed plans to build a new “stunning new state-of-the-art training complex” at Benton in late 2013.
The club, then owned by Mike Ashley, eventually opted to modernise parts of the present building, which doesn’t have a pool and isn’t comparable to many Premier League facilities.
Newcastle are now 80%-owned by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) following a £305million takeover late last year, and one source likened the training ground to that of a “lower league club”.
Jamie Reuben owns 10% of the club through RB Sports & Media, and his family have extensive property and interests in the city, including Newcastle Racecourse at Gosforth Park.
The Reuben family’s expertise will prove important, according to co-owner Amanda Staveley, who is “envious” of facilities at other clubs.
Speaking last month, Staveley said: "The Reuben brothers and Jamie have been huge investors in the city of Newcastle, and we have worked with them a long time. We trust each other.
"We all want the best for the club and that is to grow and help us develop. What that means is a new training ground, an academy. We’ve looked at other clubs' facilities quite enviously."
A number of Premier League clubs have recently built all-new training grounds, and a North East-based architect who worked on Manchester City’s academy proposed an innovative training complex and 7,000-seat “community stadium” for the club, which didn’t commission the work.
Newcastle, certainly, are playing catch-up in terms of infrastructure, and head coach Eddie Howe was keen for his players to try the “first-class” facilities at the Nad Al Sheba Sports Complex in Dubai last week.
"The facilities around the pitch are second to none,” said Howe. “We took the boys in the altitude chamber, swimming pool and cryotherapy chambers. We utilised everything we could to help the players.”
The idea is that United’s players, in future, won’t have to leave the training ground to benefit from similar facilities in the future, though, realistically, it will take a number of years for a new complex to be built.
Newcastle’s owners, looking at what the club needs in the medium to long term, must first decide whether to redevelop the present facility or move out of Benton – and the search for potential new sites is the first step in this process.
The club’s Academy is based on an adjoining site at Little Benton, and the future of this facility is also under consideration.
In the short term, the club’s Benton base will be improved for Howe and his players and staff.
United’s longer-term vision, however, is far more exciting.