SAFC Academy expansion plans get green light

Work starts on Sunderland AFC's new training facility near Cleadon.
Work starts on Sunderland AFC's new training facility near Cleadon.
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PLANS to expand the Black Cats’ training facilities have been given the go-head, despite opposition from neighbours.

Work has already started on a new indoor training facility and all-weather floodlit pitch at the Academy of Light in Cleadon.

The new facilities are expected to be finished in October.

Permission was granted two weeks ago by a senior Government minister, after South Tyneside Council approved plans locally last month.

Football chiefs today said they are delighted with the decision to give plans the go ahead.

SAFC chief executive Margaret Byrne said: “Naturally we are delighted that our application has been approved by the Planning Committee and we thank them for their diligence in considering our proposals.

“We want to ensure Sunderland continues to attract and nurture the best young home-grown talent, and having top-class facilities certainly helps us in that respect.”

The indoor arena and artificial pitch will allow academy youngsters to continue training during winter months, dark evenings and bad weather.

SAFC Academy manager Ged McNamee added: “Ensuring that we have the very best facilities to enhance the development of home-grown players such as Jack Colback and Jordan Henderson has always been a priority for us.

“The new regulations pertaining to the Elite Player Performance Plan made the building of the indoor arena and floodlit artificial pitch an absolute necessity for the club, so we’re delighted that the project has been given the go-ahead.”

But the decision has drawn criticism from opponents.

Anne Turvill, of Moor Lane, said: “I had heard it had gone through, but I do not know who has done that.

“It is the lighting from the academy that is my main concern and of others.

“I’m annoyed and disappointed that this has been approved, but I can’t say I’m surprised. This is a green belt issue and you can already see light from the training ground in the distance. A lot of residents feel as I do.”