Brighton & Hove Albion: Training ground 'critical' for club's future
Brighton & Hove Albion chief executive Paul Barber says their new training ground and academy is "critical" to the club's future.
The £30m facility at Lancing is set to be completed next summer.
"It is not just about attracting young players. It is about retaining good players," Barber told BBC Sussex.
"It completes the infrastructure of putting the club on a good footing to progress in the future and move to the next level."
He added: "It is a massively important project for us."
Seagulls executive director Martin Perry is overseeing the project, with construction due to be completed on 27 June next year - three days before Brighton's players report back for pre-season training ahead of the 2014-15 campaign.
Brighton currently hold the majority of their training sessions at the University of Sussex in Falmer.
There are five training pitches being installed for the first team at the new West Sussex facility, two of which are exact replicas of the pitch at the Amex Stadium, and seven for use by the youth academy.
Perry, who was previously Albion chief executive and managed the Sussex club's move to the Amex, says they are "exactly on schedule".
"We've only got a very short timeframe in which to get it complete," Perry told BBC Sussex.
"It's important to attract young talent so we can compete against the major Premier League clubs in growing our home-grown talent. There are state-of-the-art facilities as good as a Premier League club.
"It's a facility that will attract good first-team players as well. It gives us the ability to train all year round, with under-soil heating and it enables us to get the best performances out of our players.
"It is really important for taking this club forward."
Barber argues that the facilities will persuade parents to keep their children in Sussex and choose Brighton's youth academy over Premier League sides.
Albion are aiming to achieve a Level Two status academy under the Elite Player Performance Plan but development squad manager Simon Ireland says they have scope for improvement.
"This will be one of the best academies around in terms of the Premier League and around Europe and what it is going to offer," Ireland said.
"It is a great selling point for trying to attract young players to the football club and retaining your best young players, with the competition of big clubs around.
"With the categorisation of the academies, everything is positive now.
"The first team are striving to get in the Premier League and at academy level we are striving to go Category One in the future, with what we are looking to offer the young players."
Brighton chairman Tony Bloom is relishing the prospect of seeing players come through the academy and progress into the first-team squad.
"Nothing excites me more than seeing our young players coming through the ranks and playing for Brighton," Bloom said.
"From a financial point of view it makes sense to go for them rather than have to pay out significant transfer fees on other players.
"The fans want some of their own - Brighton boys or Sussex boys - to be in the first-team squad. That is really important and something they all look forward to seeing."