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The £15m boost for Southampton FC's football factory
WHEN finished, it will cost roughly the same £15m fee as star striker Dani Osvaldo.
But the long-term benefits to Southampton FC of upgrading their Staplewood training ground could be worth more than ten times that amount.
Council chiefs have allowed the club to build six new football pitches - two of which will be floodlit - and to install an inflatable dome.
Why are the club spending this money? The answer lies in comments made by chairman Nicola Cortese over 18 months ago.
At a time when Saints were a Championship club, Cortese was looking ahead to the Premier League.
Saints have always been known as a club capable of producing superb players.
Before that, back in the 1980s, there was Steve Moran, the Wallace brothers - Danny, Rod and Ray - and Alan Shearer.
And now, in the current Saints squad, are Adam Lallana, Luke Shaw, James Ward-Prowse and Calum Chambers.
Cortese is desperate to make the academy even more of a focal point at the club.
It costs Saints more than £2m a year to keep their academy going, but they have recouped their money since it started in the late 1990s by selling ex-starlets.
“The academy is very important to become a sustainable business,” Cortese has said. “We would want to see a starting XI in the Premier League that is fed from our youth development.
“We have got examples. The Champions League title of Barcelona in 2009. At the beginning of the game they had seven players from their academy. At the end of the game they had eight.
"It's hard to quantify, but we definitely believe we can achieve that as well.”
That is why Saints are spending £15m on revamping Staplewood.
After all, youth systems will become increasingly more important over the coming years due to UEFA's Financial Fair Play rules.
Those rules will limit the amount of money being spent on transfers by clubs, meaning homegrown players will become increasingly greater assets.
Saints fielded more English players in the top flight last season than any other club, and three were home-grown - Lallana, Shaw and Ward-Prowse.
Chambers made his Premier League debut back in August, while Lloyd Isgrove - called up to the Welsh senior squad this week despite not having played a league game for Saints - was taken on the pre-season tour.
In addition, academy trio Jake Sinclair, Omar Rowe and Harrison Reed all made their first team debuts in the League Cup at Barnsley a few weeks ago.
Another academy lad, Matt Targett, has also been included in recent England U19 squads.
When it is eventually completed, the new complex at Staplewood will boast school-rooms, medical centre, swimming pool, state-of-the-art gym, video labs and a restaurant.
There will also be office suites for the youth recruitment department, coaching staff and support personnel.
This is not the first revamp of Staplewood in recent years.
A year later, Woodward was proudly showing the Daily Echo around a dome facility including an indoor pitch and relaxation rooms, complete with state-of-the-art eye-stimulation features and chairs costing over £1,000.
That has since been knocked down. In its place is a new two-storey complex containing a medical centre, a players' lounge and other facilities.
Saints' head of development, Les Reed, has been instrumental in helping to come up with plans for the new-look Staplewood. In his bid to come up with the best for Saints, he has visited drama schools to the Royal Ballet, from the Yehudi Menuhin music school to Nick Bollettieri's tennis academy in Florida and elite football centres across Germany.
“If we want half our team to come from the academy, which we do, the recruitment needs to be the best, and the development plan for each individual needs to be excellent, as do the facilities, the sports science and the technical quality of the coaching,” Reed has said.
“The philosophy of player-development at Bayern Munich is two each year for the first team, two for the league, and two for the rest of German football.
"Aiming to match Barcelona is a big ambition but you need to strive for that to be successful.”
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