St George's Park does not guarantee success - Southgate

By Alistair MagowanBBC Sport

The new £100m National Football Centre in Staffordshire is not guaranteed to deliver results, says the Football Association's Gareth Southgate.

The delayed St George's Park is set to open in August and will be a centre of excellence for coaching as England aim to catch up with other European rivals.

"In any business there are no guarantees of results," the FA's head of elite development told BBC Sport.

"But if we don't do this type of thing we are doing everybody a disservice."

St George's Park was initially proposed in 2001 with an intended opening date of 2004, but the building of Wembley and political wrangling delayed its completion.

The 330-acre site near Burton will be a training base for England's 24 different teams and is intended to become the home of English football development by boosting the number of quality coaches and homegrown managers.

It comes after the FA introduced a new coaching philosophy, called Future Game, and proposals for youth football which include delaying 11-a-side matches until under-13s level.

The latest figures seen by BBC Sport show that the number of Uefa-qualified coaches (Pro, A and B Licence) in England has increased from 2,769 in 2008 to 6,005 in 2012, with 10,223 having taken FA Youth modules specifically geared towards coaching young players.

The completion of St George's Park comes at the same time as the Premier League and Football League's academies are to be overhauled as part of the Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP).

Academies will be independently graded in four different levels in time for next season.

And although those with the highest status can be from either the Premier League or the Football League, they are likely to recruit most of the best players as catchment area restrictions are relaxed.

It marks a sea change in the eyes of former England defender Southgate, 41, who believes that the country's major football bodies are finally pointing in the same direction.

"At the moment it is one of the first times in many years that those bodies are sat around the table together trying to improve things for the better," he told BBC Sport.

But he accepts that much of the coaching is in the hands of the professional game.

"The Premier League is running the academy system with the Football League and that's a history that I don't understand," Southgate added.

"In my view, the national association should be running that but we haven't got that scenario, so what we have to influence is the education of coaches and the support and knowledge they can gain after that."

Southgate was appointed to his role almost exactly a year ago, the same day that building work began on St George's Park.

And the former Middlesbrough manager is hopeful that elite clubs will complement the FA's philosophy of producing technically-gifted and decisive players who are comfortable in possession in all areas of the pitch.

"Individual clubs will have their own nuances on philosophies, but the clear thing is that clubs at the top of the Premier League and in the Champions League all play a passing game," he said.

"They all have and are looking for players who are comfortable in possession of the ball throughout the team, so if you look at the elite clubs in our country that philosophy is actually there."

Southgate said he also hoped that coaches working with younger players would be properly rewarded.

"In the past people that run football clubs understandably focus on the first team - that's what brings money and that's what gives immediate results and they always pay those coaches more than the youth coaches," he said.

"But it might be that the coach of your under-10s or under-12s is the most important coach in your football club.

"There's a lot of reviewing of the club academies going on and I think there will be a lot more full-time positions, which is encouraging.

"We have to recognise that coaching is a profession. It's recognised as such in other sports and probably in other countries but here we almost deride coaches."