Eagles’ bid to (soar) with Academy expansion plans

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Crystal Palace Football Club’s – the English professional football club based in Selhurst, South London Image: Crystal Palace FC

Crystal Palace Football Club’s – the English professional football club based in Selhurst, South London – planning application vis-a-vis restoration of its Academy site has been opened to public discourse. Work is expected to start next year.

The club revealed big plans last month as to renovating (£15-20million) the Copers Cope Road site, with a major expansion of football, education and welfare facilities for its young players, having secured a long-term lease on the site.

The club aims to make the Academy a fulcrum point for the best of talent in south London. It also aims to secure Category 1 status for the Academy in time for the 2020-21 seasons and wants to become the first club in south London to secure Category One status.

The full application is now ready to be viewed online and comments can be submitted on the Bromley Council Planning portal. The plans include: Restoring all the buildings (internal and external) campus-style; new classrooms, lecture rooms and meeting spaces; new medical treatment, rehabilitation, and sports science facility; and eatery.

More details will be added to the playing facility: A full-size DESSO main pitch (a hybrid grass surface comprising natural grass combined with artificial fibers) with under soil heating; an all-weather use full-size covered 3G synthetic pitch; A full-size, floodlit 3G pitch; and creation of six additional pitches of varying sizes for various age groups.

The club presently runs a Category 2 Academy, running 10 teams who fall in the Under-9 age group through to U-23s. The club’s Under-15s are national Super Floodlit Cup champions, while the U18s and U23s won their respective leagues in the 2017-18 seasons.

Thirty-five full-time and 100 part-time staff has been employed by the club in its Academy. It is expected that 20 more people will be added to the workforce -including eight teachers for players’ education.

Part-owner and Chairman of Crystal Palace Football Club Steve Parish says expansion of the Academy is of “critical importance” to their future. He further stated that the expansion plans will help the Eagles (nick name of Crystal Palace Football Club) “attract the best young players in London”.

“We have a proud, rich history of nurturing exceptional young footballers, and we must ensure that the best young players are playing here and developing their careers at Crystal Palace. Securing Category One status for our academy is imperative for us to be competitive in attracting the very best young players, and there is an abundance of raw footballing talent in south London,” Parish asserted.

He further explained, “To have our entire academy set-up on one site in Bromley, where we can increase our contact time with young players, and also vastly enhance our education provision and support infrastructure for them, would be of enormous benefit to the club and the young players too.”

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