Arsenal have confirmed that the club are planning a major extension to the Youth Academy at Hale End.
The venue, which plays host to trainees between the age of 9-16, gained Academy status in 1998 and has become integral to the evolution of the club’s football philosophy under Arsene Wenger and Liam Brady.
While details of the plans are in their infancy, the club hinted at an overhaul of existing facilities with the following statement in the annual report:
“Looking ahead, the Club is in the process of agreeing the necessary planning consents for a major development of its youth development training facility at Hale End.”
Last year Arsenal opened a state-of-the-art medical centre at London Colney, while extra pitches and a media briefing room have also been added in the last decade as part of the continued evolution of a training complex built using funds from the sale of Nicolas Anelka to Real Madrid in 1999.
Such expenditure on infrastructure is all too often overlooked by supporters who are blinded by the figures associated with player acquisition.
Given the relatively new home-grown player regulations and the exemption made by UEFA for spending on similar developmental facilities, despite Financial Fair Play rules coming into play, it’s very apparent that Arsenal’s focus on youth is being held up as the blueprint for other clubs to follow. Indeed, just two weeks ago Manchester City announced a huge training complex project of their own.