SUNDERLAND AFC has received councillors’ blessings for an extension of its training facilities.
An application for a new indoor training site and outdoor synthetic floodlit pitch north of the Academy of Light, at Whitburn Moor, Cleadon, was heard by South Tyneside Council’s planning committee yesterday.
Some neighbours in Cleadon Village had raised concerns over its potential impact on the conservation area, particularly the floodlit element of the plan – which one labelled “light pollution.”
However, committee members overwhelming backed the application, after being told the extension was needed for the club to meet the latest requirements of the Football Association.
It will now be forwarded to the Secretary of State, as is required by planning law, for final approval.
Councillor Allan West, who represents Westoe, spoke out on behalf of the Wearside club – despite being a Middlesbrough fan.
“It’s easy to be cynical about big-time football in these days of clubs being run by Russian oligarchs, but we should all, at least, agree on the benefits of developing football academies.
“As a Smoggy, I can point to the fact that there were seven academy players on the pitch for Middlesbrough on Sunday.
“There are 516 young people enrolled at the Academy of Light.
“In my view, it is essential to the future of Sunderland FC and the extension is needed if the club is to be awarded category one status.
“They need this facility, and I do not believe the impact of the lighting element will be either dramatic or overbearing.”