West Ham purchased their current training ground, Chadwell Heath in 1995, the story goes that a West Ham director was embarrassed by the poor conditions West Ham were training at the time which led the board to purchase and move to Chadwell Heath.Chadwell Heath is under 10 acres in size having two full size grass pitches & one all weather artificial pitch with flood lights. It also has a large indoor facility which resembles a large warehouse with various outbuildings.
There is an urban myth that the state of Chadwell Heath pitches are the cause of many of our players injuries and I understand West Ham carried out an investigation in the past to find out whether there was any truth in this. As if to prove the point West Ham released an article and pictures on WHUFC.com last year about the Chadwell Heath pitches being dug up re-leveled with sand & re-seeded.
However the fact remains whatever the truth is on the pitches the site is too small with limited building facilities for the modern game.
In February 2009, West Ham entered into an option agreement to purchase the freehold interest in the 29 acre Rush Green Ford Sports Ground from the Ford Motor Company. In September the same year, they completed the acquisition of the property for a sum of £1.4 million.
The original plan was built a new state of the art training facility and in November 2009 West Ham submitted a planning permission application to Havering Council.
The Rush Green site is close to Romford and just two miles from our current facilities at Chadwell Heath.The training ground has a stadium pitch and three training pitches.
David Sullivan said of Rush Green when he officially opened the stadium last year:
“I wanted to come down here to see the facilities and what is happening here, I have to say they’re doing a wonderful job.Our reserves will be playing here next season so for anybody wishing to watch them it will be an easier trip than Bishops Stortford. We’re now located in our heartland of Romford and it’s a lovely little place. Hopefully this could become our new training ground one day”
The question remains when and if this training ground will ever be properly re-developed into a world class training facility worthy of our world class Academy. Our debt problems and getting the Olympic Stadium has been our number one priority but now the clock is finally ticking down to 2016 we need a training facility to rival our 54,000 Olympic stadium.
Just like 1955, we have been left behind by our London Premier league rivals and should feel embarrassed again.
Spurs built a new training centre at their 77 Acre Bulls Cross site at a net cost of £30m. They have 15 grass pitches across the site including four dedicated solely for First Team Training and one and a half artificial outdoor pitches with floodlighting. It also has a pool and hydrotherapy complex, altitude room, large-scale gymnasium and specialist sports rehabilitation suites
The Arsenal Training Centre covers an area of 143 acres with ten full-size pitches which was build in 1999.
Chelsea Cobham training centre in Surrey is based on a 140 acre site and houses all of the club’s football activities, from the first team to the academy, reserve and women’s teams. It features "the latest in training, rehabilitation, medical, pitch and media technology and includes 30 football pitches (three with undersoil heating and six to Premier League standard), an indoor artificial pitch, a media centre, a medical centre, gyms, cold immersion pools, a sauna, a steam room, a HydroWorx pool and a 56 ft hydrotherapy pool.
With our owners ambitions for the Olympic Stadium we also need similar ambitions for a new training facility to rival what Spurs, Chelsea and Arsenal have already done. The question is whether Rush Green at 29 acres is big enough?
Maybe we should be looking for a 150 acre site in the Essex countryside and invest £31m to make it the best premier league training and academy facilities around London.