Sunderland's old training ground is '˜wasting away'
A former Sunderland AFC training ground is 'wasting away' when it could be used by local sports teams, it has been claimed.
The Charlie Hurley Centre has not been used by the Black Cats since the opening of the Academy of Light almost 15 years ago.
Peter Curtis, of Sunderland-based NE Sport, is renewing calls for the site, between Cleadon and Whitburn, to be put to better use for sporty youngsters in the area.
Mr Curtis argues that the centre should be made available to sports clubs from across Sunderland and South Tyneside.
“Five years ago I wrote to Sunderland AFC asking for permission to use the facilities at the Charlie Hurley Centre and in return we would maintain and care for the pitches at no cost to Sunderland,” he told the Echo.
“They said they were not interested, as it was part of their long-term plans. Five years on and it is still wasting away.
“It’s tragic really and what makes it even worse is when you think of the money involved in the Premier League.
“Meanwhile, grassroots football clubs continue to struggle. This was a perfectly-good training ground that has been binned. It’s shocking.”
Mr Curtis recently made his feelings on the subject known in a post on NE Sport’s Facebook page, which he says has gathered huge support.
The firm has an office in Hendon’s Co-op Centre and also works out of Monkwearmouth Academy.
The company delivers after-school sports clubs in the city, with 22 football sides playing under its name.
“It’s upsetting to see the place in this state because it could be used by so many people, not just NE Sport, but other organisations,” added Mr Curtis.
“It would be a real asset if it was used properly.
“I’m sure discussions need to be had between residents in the area, but surely people would like to see something done.”
The centre was named after SAFC’s Player of the Century, who was at Roker Park from 1957 to 1969.
Supporters recently began a campaign to have a statue of the former defender built in Sunderland in time for his 80th birthday, this October.
A spokeswoman for Sunderland AFC said the club were not willing to comment on the issue of the former training centre.