Charlton Athletic’s training ground, Sparrows Lane in New Eltham, is currently undergoing a major redevelopment that, once complete, will be of huge benefit to the club, its academy and women’s team, Charlton Athletic Community Trust, Footscray Rugby Club and the local community for many decades to come.
Fully funded by the club the project has been split into four phases and the training ground continues to be operational whilst work is carried out.
Phase I - Cost £1.8m
The first part of the project to be completed was the construction of two, state-of-the art, 3G pitches. The all-weather surfaces can absorb up 1500 hours of football per year and one of the pitches also boasts the exact dimensions of The Valley.
The pitches proved crucial in early 2017. Frozen weather meant that no training was possible on natural grass and the surfaces allowed Charlton’s first-team, academy and women’s teams to train. The surfaces continue to be utilised by all of the above, as well as by the club’s award-winning Community Trust.
Phase II - Cost: £1.8m
Planning permission on phase II of the redevelopment was granted in October 2016, with construction work beginning in February 2017 following legal delays.
Phase II sees the club work with neighbouring Footscray Rugby Club, as well as the Charlton Athletic Community Trust, and consists of the construction of a new synthetic community pitch. It involves the renovation of Footscray Rugby Club’s natural pitches and the construction of two additional 3G pitches for Footscray and CACT.
As well as this, the whole CACT area of the training ground is being revamped. This includes the construction of two new changing rooms, a classroom, a consultation room, the construction of a new, 3G rugby pitch and the construction of a new access road and increased parking area.
Phase III - Cost: £600,0000
Phase II and III of the redevelopment are progressing simultaneously alongside one another at Sparrows Lane.
Phase III is focused around the redevelopment and improvement of the club's natural turf pitches. Each of the training pitches have been dug up and relayed with improved drainage. This will improve the quality of the pitches and also allow more training on the pitches throughout the year as they will be less vulnerable to sustained periods of bad weather.
The 3G constructions as part of Phase II has also allowed over 5,000 tonnes of soil to be recycled and ‘cleaned’, which is now being used to refurbish the club’s natural surfaces.
Moreover, 600-metre trenches have been dug and these will enable the training ground to incorporate increased gas and electricity links, which is essential to the whole redevelopment.
Phase IV - Estimated cost: a minimum of £8m
The final phase of the Sparrows Lane redevelopment will see the training ground’s all-new, modern, main building constructed. The facility will be built to give the club the best opportunity at achieving Cat 1 status. This will include dramatically improved facilities with an increased gym, larger state of the art dressing rooms, a restaurant set to be five times the size of the training ground's current canteen.
Phase IV doesn't just relate to the building though, it will include increased car parking and a new access road making the training ground more accessible for parents dropping off children and giving Charlton Athletic the best opportunity of attracting and recruiting the first team players of the future.