Golf courses are being turned into Premier League clubs’ training grounds

Tania Longmire
By Tania Longmire February 15, 2018 14:42

Some golf courses have been converted into housing estates in recent years but there is now a new trend: to become training grounds for Premier League football clubs.

AFC Bournemouth are to develop a multi-million pound training complex on the 57-acre site of what was Canford Magna Golf Club, which the football club acquired last year.

“While it is important to provide Premier League facilities for Premier League players, we also want to give the region’s youngsters the best place to develop their talent, and we believe this complex will be the perfect place to do that,” said chief executive Neill Blake.

According to the club’s website, facilities at the complex will include ten full-size pitches, three junior pitches, an indoor artificial playing surface, state-of-the-art medical, fitness, sports science and rehabilitation facilities, and a press conference theatre.

Meanwhile, there are reports suggesting the 2016 Premier League champions, Leicester City, have been looking to buy Forest Hill Golf and Conference Centre for about £2.2 million and convert it into a training ground.

However, a long-standing covenant on the land, that it should be used as a golf club, appears to have scuppered any possibility of the move.

The previous landowner, Leicester City Council, said the land was sold ‘cheaply’ and if it was ever used as anything other than a golf club they would demand an ‘economic price’ for the land, thought to be about £12 million, which the football club are not prepared to pay.

The club were preparing to spend £60 million to £80 million on a new training complex and had drawn up plans for Forest Hill, according to the golf club owners.

“Leicester City are no longer buying the golf club,” confirmed Forest Hill director Andrew Sparsis, who owns the club with his brother Laki.

“It was all but done. From what I gather, the reason they changed their mind was that the council put an unreasonable covenant on the land.

“It is a disappointment because they were planning such big things to happen. I think it would have been of great benefit to Leicester.”

Rumours of City’s interest had led to some of Forest Hill’s 600 members, as well as members of staff, leaving due to the uncertainty over its future.

The club, which opened in 1991, lies on more than 90 acres of land.

Leicester Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby said: “The land was sold cheaply, before my time as mayor, on the understanding that if it was used for anything other than a golf club we would then have to charge an economic value for that land.

“I was advised that the economic value was £12 million.”


Tania Longmire
By Tania Longmire February 15, 2018 14:42
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