Behind the scenes of Brighton’s bold £ 8.5million statement of intent to join WSL elite

Plenty of clubs like to pat themselves on the back when it comes to supporting women’s and girls’ football, but Brighton and Hove Albion have put their money where their mouth is by building a cutting-edge training facility dedicated entirely to their women’s football programme at the sizeable cost of £8.5 million. 

The American Express Elite Performance Centre 2, which was officially opened last month, houses teams from the under-12s all the way up to Hope Powell’s side in the Women’s Super League, and has raised the bar for the WSL as a standalone, dedicated ­facility. A peek inside reveals a hugely impressive set-up that would be the envy of almost every women’s sports club in Europe. With a swimming pool, gym and two changing rooms with the dimensions to be fit for men’s Premier League football, plus everything from boot warmers to ice baths for the players, no stone has been left unturned to provide “elite” facilities. 

The club decided to equip the site with the same specifications as the men’s team are afforded. The site is environmentally friendly, with 800 solar panels and 1,000 new trees. Manager Powell believes the “special” facility gives her players “the very best chance” of success. 

“We’re blessed with having an owner [Tony Bloom] who really supports the women and is prepared to build a dedicated facility. It feels like home,” the former England head coach said of the training ground, which hosted the Norway national side during July’s European Championship. “I’m really pleased that the game has shifted, and that the modern player gets to live the life of a proper professional. I feel some degree of satisfaction that finally, it’s almost like, ‘go on’, the game is being taken a bit more seriously than perhaps when I played, where we had to pay for everything, we trained on concrete, you wore men’s kit, you wore men’s boots, everything was aligned to the men. Now the female game is firmly on the map, especially after a great summer.” 

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