STOKE City chairman Peter Coates dug the first sod of grass for the club’s £5m training-ground revamp – and then revealed his family would be digging deep into its own pockets to finance the year-long project.
He stressed that the cost of the re-development work, which started with yesterday’s ceremonial removal of the first patch of turf, would not impact on transfers.
“We have always intended to do this,” said the chairman, “and essentially the finance is coming from the Coates family.
“This is a big step forward for this football club. Some people thought it was never going to happen, but now it is.
“We are laying down an important foundation for the club. We are now in the Premier League and we want to spend some of the money wisely for the long term.
“We have never had a proper training ground facility.” and these facilities will be first class and on a wonderful site.”
The re-development of the Michelin ground, which goes ahead after overcoming protests from nearby residents, will feature a two-storey block accommodating changing, office and exercise facilities, while new pitches will be accompanied by floodlights for night-time use by senior and academy players alike.
The ceremony was attended by representatives of main contrcators, Kier North West along with those from AFL Architects and Arcadis AYH Cost Consultants who have been involved since the projects inception in 2008. Arcadis, who have offices in London and Manchester are heavily involved in the Olympic Stadium project, and were instrumental in developing Celtic's state of the art training facility.