Stoke City win permission to start one of biggest off-field projects in club history

An artist's impression showing the path leading to Stoke City's new training facility at Clayton Wood, which should be ready by September 2025.
-Credit: (Image: Stoke City)


Stoke City have been given the green light to carry out one of the biggest off-field projects in the club’s history with the building of a £10m to £12m training facility.

The club is hoping to start work in September for a state of the art two-storey building at Clayton Wood, which in turn will see the current building renovated exclusively for the academy and women’s teams. Planning permission has been granted by Newcastle Borough Council and Stoke are now in talks with four building contractors about taking the scheme on.

The work is expected to take 12 months and is part of a five-year £30m investment plan in infrastructure at the training ground and bet365 Stadium – spending which does not count in calculations about Financial Fair Play.

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Sporting director Jon Walters said: “I’m very lucky to be part of this and to help oversee it. It’s phenomenal. There are players in the squad who have come to me and said this is a ridiculous building we’ve got here (in terms of quality). I said to wait until 12 months down the line and we have a new first team building and this can grow with the academy and women’s teams.

“To have that state of the art facility, what more could you want as a player? But the key is that it’s not a comfortable place, it’s a working place. You have standards within that. Everything is on a plate and it’s up to you then, as a player, to make the most of the right environment.”

He added: “I had just signed here as a player when we first moved out of the portacabins and into this building, so it’s 15 years old now and there has been constant investment. It’s been extended a couple of times and we’ve grown as a club.

“It shows what the owners are putting into the club, and when you tie that in with what’s going on at the stadium with the licensed standing, the away fans being moved, the fan zone being built…

“It’s a club that has real investment behind it going in the right direction. Compare that with some other clubs in the Championship or even the Premier League, where there are some real problems, and to have such stability is incredible for someone in my position.”

There are various factors behind the decision to make this investment and the most pressing is probably that, with hundreds of players in the academy and women’s team to accommodate, there is a need for more space to get changed and work out.

Vice-chairman Richard Smith said: “We set up a plan about three years ago to invest in the infrastructure of the club and we set aside about £20m to deliver a number of different projects. After about a year we realised we didn’t have enough in that kitty so added another £10m. This plan here is the most significant of those investments. It’s £10m on one building, the most we’ve spent on an individual project since we built the stadium back in 1997. It’s a big project for us.

“People may ask, ‘You’ve already got a nice training facility, why do you need to do that?’ but we’ve extended this building on a number of different occasions through its lifespan and we’ve outgrown it, is what it comes down to. To accommodate what we want to accommodate here it just isn’t big enough anymore.

“The main factor in that is probably the women’s team and the announcement last year that we wanted to go semi-pro with our women’s operation. When you make that sort of decision you want them to be part of the family, if you like. We want to bring them to this site so they can train here and play some of their matches here.

“There are also more demands on the academy and we want to maintain our category one status as a club because we think that’s really important in developing our own talent. We’re an ambitious club but we are not a club that can go out and spend money like the big clubs on players, we want to create talent from within and have targeted transfers with the money we’ve got available to us.

“This is also about setting up infrastructure that will support where we want to end up, which is back in the Premier League with our men’s first team.”