Newcastle United confirm ‘long-term vision’ for new state-of-the-art training ground
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The standard of the current site at Darsley Park after what was a state of the art facility when it was first opened just under 20 years ago was subjected to a lack of investment under former owner Mike Ashley. Images of players taking ice baths in wheelie bins and paddling pools gave a clear indication that United’s training facilities had fallen well behind those of their Premier League rivals.
But now, with the PIF-led consortium looking to make improvements on and off the park, change is happening. Darsley Park is undergoing a partial transformation with new hydrotherapy and plunge pools, improved changing areas, a presentation room, a players lounge and dining area and new medical facilities all being built within the existing site.
That is a short-term measure, according to Eales, with the United owners keen to put in place more ‘building blocks’ to allow the club to progress and deliver on their ambitious plans.
He explained: “The first thing I’d say, and a huge shout out to the owners coming in the way they did, obviously you’ve got the relegation fight at the time, and the January transfer window. There’s been so many building blocks they’ve already put in place, which is just incredible. There’s been so many great things that have happened. One of the things that has been impressive in all of our chaos, and stuff going on, is looking and saying ‘OK, we’ve got the training ground that’s there - how can we incrementally improve it?’. Yes, at some stage, with a long-term vision, clearly that’s an area we’re going to look at in terms of a new facility. But still saying ‘what can we do now that can be done now that can help the first team?’.
A move to a new site and a new modern facility is said to be high on the agenda for the United hierarchy. A number of sites across the city are believed to be under consideration and there have been reports suggesting Gosforth Park is on site that has been discussed ahead of a long-term move away from Darsley Park.
Eales described the changes at the current site as ‘incremental improvements’ but admitted a new training ground is part of a ‘long-term vision’ to help reach the heights that Magpies owners wish to reach in the coming years.
He said: “I think they did a great job very quickly in saying ‘OK, how can we do some little things like putting a hydro pool in?’. From a rehabilitation perspective, we’ve got the ability now to have that resource. To be able to create a little bit more space for our medical and sports science. All of those factors, it’s a way to provide incremental benefit to the team. Not thinking about ‘is that sunk cost if we go somewhere else?’.
“But actually saying ‘no, we need to deliver to the first team’. It’s not easy. We’ve got to get stuff done. I do think that is an area where we’ve found some incremental improvements. But clearly, on a long-term vision, training ground is an area where if we’re going to get to where we want to get to, we’re going to need to have those facilities. It’s one of those factors you’re going to need to have in place.”