Damion Roberts , Sports editor
Monday, June 6, 2011
Boro to develop new training complex at Bragbury End
STEVENAGE chairman Phil Wallace says his club needs to invest in the sort of training ground it plans to develop at Bragbury End if Boro want to build on their success of back-to-back promotions.
The club announced yesterday (Sunday) it has bought the 40-acre former BAE Systems sports ground off the A602 at Bragbury End, Stevenage, to provide a new training base for its first team and scholars.
In its prime the land was used by a number of sports teams while it has, in the past, also hosted the England, West Germany and Switzerland national football teams.
Although there were other interested parties sniffing around the development in recent months, Stevenage’s bid was accepted by BAE Systems and speaking about the purchase, and the need to improve the club off the pitch, Wallace says he is delighted with the deal and hopes it will help push the club on to further success.
“It’s a former sports ground, it’s been used by many teams, international teams, over the years, it’s 40 acres, it’s idyllic, and it’s a fantastic location,” Wallace told The Comet. “It’s the right location, there’s a great feel to it and there’s the privacy as well.
“You need something like this if you want to progress. If you look at the likes of (Championship side) Reading where they’ve got 25 acres of training ground (Hogwood Park, where the Royals have trained since 2004), then if you want to be serious in your desire to move forward than you need something like this.
“I’ve been looking for three to six months and it is all part of planning ahead.”
Stevenage players currently train at the club’s football academy at Shephalbury which has four all-weather pitches and a full size playing pitch, but the club hopes to build up to six football pitches on the newly acquired land by next spring.
“Work has already started and it’ll take as long as it does, but these things usually take up to about nine months or so. We’ve got to strip it down and rebuild it again,” Wallace said.
“The community centre (at Shephalbury) will stay and we want to make it available to even more people.”
Wallace also spoke of his desire to see more fans coming through the turnstiles and hopes that if Boro can reach gates of upwards of 6,000 (last season’s average crowd was 2,898) then the club can make even further progress.
“We want to try to build the fan base to six or seven thousand or so, and if we get people through the gates then we won’t stop here,” Wallace said.
A spokesman for BAE Systems told the club’s website “BAE Systems is pleased agreement could be reached to sell the former sports ground at Bragbury End. Stevenage FC are so important in the local community and we hope that this helps the continued progress of the Club in the future”