Stoke City: Peter Coates investing £7m in developing local talent for Potters
PETER Coates wants to turn the clock back to the 1970s to see a Stoke City team generously stocked by homegrown talent.
The Stoke chairman revealed his dream after officially launching the next phase of the club's training ground development.
Construction work begins this week to extend the existing main building at Clayton Wood by 25 per cent by adding a further 500 square metres of floor space.
And Coates says the investment demonstrates the club's desire to eventually develop more of their own talent to one day field another team mirroring the famous back four of Marsh, Pejic, Smith and Bloor from 40 years ago.
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"We think this is a great footballing area with a great tradition and we are sure there is talent out there," he stated.
"It is just so good if you can get local boys coming through. There is nothing quite like a local boy playing for this club."
Coates acknowledged the competition from the likes of the two Manchester clubs, United and City, plus Liverpool and Aston Villa because of Stoke's geographic location.
But he added: "Although we have lost out to other clubs in the past, we are now focused on making sure all the best young boys in the area come to Stoke.
"I don't think it is difficult to compete if you can offer the facilities, the quality coaching, the education and do everything as well as the other clubs can.
"And it is much more convenient for parents to have something on their doorstep rather than having to trundle off miles away.
"We believe that with our facilities, any parent would be delighted to have their boys here."
Coates said the club would not ignore other markets, such as abroad, but confessed his heart was more in homegrown talent.
"We will look to all areas because you have to," he said. "Sometimes you can get better value and get the player you want. We have no problem with getting players from other countries, but for me, the more local the better."
The latest development at Clayton Wood will see the installation of additional changing rooms, office accommodation, a classroom, a parents' lounge, two small spectator stands on the nearest pitch and a two-lane sprint track.
The 38-week project is phase one of the club's extension, the second phase is due to start next year and will include an indoor pitch on land close to the existing main building.
The cost of the entire project was initially put at £6m, but the club chairman now says the final cost will be nearer £7m.